One night after being no-hit by Mike Fiers, the Dodgers sent Zach Greinke to the mound to try to tie the three-game series up at one-a-piece. Unfortunately for Greinke, his offense once again sputtered as Scott Kazmir was able to hold Los Angeles to just one run in six innings on Saturday evening.
The Astros, however, got the scoring started early as Houston struck for single runs in the first and second innings. Jose Altuve led-off the first with a triple to deep left-center field and later scored on a Carlos Correa ground-out to third. In the second, Luis Valbuena stepped in with no one on and two outs and sent his 22nd home run of the season into the Houston bullpen to stretch the lead to 2-0. Astros manager A.J. Hinch spoke about the importance of capitalizing on their chances after the game.
“We took advantage of the very few mistakes that were made,” Hinch said. “Going into the game you know he’s a really good pitcher. So if you get any mistakes or any opportunities, you want to capitalize on them.”
Houston only tallied three hits in the game and didn’t record a walk, but also didn’t leave any runners on base.
LA would strike for a run of their own in the sixth when Jimmy Rollins led-off with a double. Justin Turner cut the Houston lead to 2-1 with a single to score Rollins from third with one out. Los Angeles only tallied one more hit the rest of the night as Kazmir gave way to the bullpen in the seventh. Kazmir gave up one run on six hits and struck out eight on the night for Houston.
“I thought he really got aggressive with his fastball early,” Hinch praised of his starter, “The velocity was up a little bit. The strike one mentality tonight was good. He also threw some really good change-ups to finish at-bats. It really wasn’t until the fifth inning that they really made him work.”
Houston immediately got that run back in the bottom half of the sixth as Altuve led-off with his second extra-base hit of the night on a home run into the Crawford Boxes in left field. The home run, Altuve’s tenth, gave Houston a 3-1 lead, but also tied the 2015 team with the 2000 team with nine players to have at least 10 home runs.
Altuve led the offense with two of the team’s three hits, including the home run to extend the lead. The only other Houston hitter to record a hit was Valbuena who also homered. The Houston bullpen gave up only one hit in three innings of work as Luke Gregerson saved his 24th of the year for the Astros. The club has allowed two runs or less in each of their last five ball games. Their 3.36 ERA leads the American League and is the club’s best since recording a 3.15 ERA in 1986.
The Dodgers and Astros return to Minute Maid Park on Sunday for a matinee as Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.34) will take on Lance McCullers (5-4, 3-17) at 1:10. McCullers will be called-up to make the start and Preston Tucker will be the corresponding move and will be sent down to Triple-A Fresno.
WP: Scott Kazmir (7-8)
LP: Zach Greinke (13-3)
SAVE: Luke Gregerson (24)