HOUSTON (AP) — Framber Valdez pitched seven strong innings and Kyle Tucker led the offense with a three-run homer to help the Houston Astros to a 7-3 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night.
Valdez (4-2) allowed seven hits and three runs in seven innings, collecting his third straight win and allowing the Astros to bounce back after dropping the series opener 6-1.
“If he throws like that every time out, he’ll win a lot of ball games,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said.
José Ramírez gave Cleveland an early lead when he homered for the second straight game with a solo shot in the first inning. The Astros went on top with a two-run double by Alex Bregman in the third before Tucker broke the game open with his home run off Zach Plesac (1-4) that made it 7-1 in the fifth.
The Astros tagged Plesac for a season-high nine hits, and the seven runs tied his most of the year. He struck out five and walked one in 4 2/3 innings to remain winless since April 21.
With two outs in the first, Ramírez sent the 12th pitch of the at-bat into the seats in left field for his 11th homer. It was just the second home run Valdez has allowed this season.
“That was incredible,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That was as good of an at-bat as you’re ever going to see.”
Houston got its first baserunner when Plesac plunked Martín Maldonado with two outs in the third. Jose Altuve singled, and a walk by Michael Brantley loaded the bases.
Bregman then knocked a sharp line drive into the corner in left field for a double that scored two runs and put the Astros on top 2-1.
There were two outs in the fourth when Jeremy Peña singled and advanced to second on an error on a pickoff attempt by Plesac. Chas McCormick followed with an RBI double to extend the lead to 3-1.
“Those usually win ball games, those two-out RBI hits,” Baker said. “You don’t need a homer. You just need a hit and we had a couple of them.”
Altuve and Brantley hit consecutive singles with no outs in the fifth before a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez drove in a run. With two outs and two strikes, Tucker deposited a curveball from Plesac into the bullpen in right-center to pad the lead to 7-1.
Plesac was disappointed that Houston did most of the damage against him with two outs.
“You feel like you’re ahead in those positions,” he said. “You’ve just got to shut the door, execute pitches.”
Myles Straw hit a ground-rule double to start the sixth and scored on a groundout by Ramírez with one out to get Cleveland within 7-2.
The Guardians added a run in the seventh when Oscar Mercado scored after Austin Hedges grounded into a force out.
Astros: RHP Jake Odorizzi, who left his last start on May 16 on a stretcher, threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Odorizzi, on the 15-day injured list, said he has strained ligaments around his ankle and foot and there isn’t currently a timetable for his return.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
The teams observed a moment of silence and reflection for the victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, before the game. At least 19 children and two adults were killed in the attack about 85 miles from San Antonio.
Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill (1-2, 3.48 ERA) will start against Cristian Javier (2-2, 2.87) when the series concludes Wednesday night.