Rangers build big early lead off Valdez, hold on for 5-4 win over Astros to take 2-0 lead in ALCS

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HOUSTON (AP) — Jonah Heim homered, Nathan Eovaldi pitched six effective innings and the Texas Rangers beat Framber Valdez and Houston Astros 5-4 on Monday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Adolis García, Mitch Garver and Nathaniel Lowe each hit an RBI single during Texas’ four-run first inning against Valdez, and José Leclerc closed it out for the Rangers after Yordan Alvarez powered an Astros rally.

Eovaldi struck out nine, including two in a row after Houston loaded the bases with none out in the fifth. He was charged with three runs and five hits in his third win this postseason.

The Rangers improved to 7-0 in the playoffs, including six wins on the road. They swept the Rays in the Wild Card Series and the Orioles in the Division Series, and then posted a 2-0 win at Houston in the ALCS opener.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Arlington.

Alvarez hit two solo home runs to become the sixth player in MLB history to have two multihomer games in one postseason. The second one was off Aroldis Chapman, trimming Houston’s deficit to 5-4 with two out in the eighth.

Leclerc then came in and walked José Abreu and Michael Brantley, but Chas McCormick grounded out to end the threat.

Jeremy Peña flied out to deep right field for the first out in the Houston ninth. Yainer Diaz then grounded out and Jose Altuve flied to center, giving Leclerc his second save of the series.

The Astros, who went 39-42 at home in the regular season, continued to struggle at Minute Maid Park. The defending champions fell to 1-3 at home in the playoffs this season.

The Rangers jumped all over Valdez. Semien smacking the first pitch to center field for a single. Corey Seager sent his next pitch to left field for another single before Valdez made two errors on the same play on a ball hit by Robbie Grossman.

Valdez bobbled a chopper hit by Grossman for an error that allowed him to reach first and Semien to score. His second error occurred when he badly overthrew first to move Grossman to second and Seager to third.

Valdez put his hands on his knees and shook his head at the end of the play.

García then hit a liner to right field to score Seager. Garver singled home another run before Valdez finally got his first out when he struck out Heim.

The Rangers weren’t done yet.

Lowe singled on a ground ball to left to make it 4-0. Valdez retired the next two batters to end the inning.



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