CLEVELAND (AP) — Jose Abreu homered and drove in three runs, rookie J.P. France stayed around until the seventh inning and Houston’s bullpen finally held off a Cleveland rally, giving the Astros a 6-4 win over the Guardians on Saturday night.
Abreu hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Triston McKenzie (0-1) and added an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as the Astros evened the series after losing in 14 innings on Friday,
Cleveland, which came back five times to win the series opener, scored one in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate before closer Ryan Pressly struck out Will Brennan for his 12th save in 14 chances.
After a four-hour marathon won 10-9 by Cleveland, the teams got nine innings completed in a respectable 2:52.
France (2-1) walked six in 6 2/3 innings, but was helped by his infield turning three double plays. He gave up three runs and seven hits.
France’s second straight solid outing — he went a season-high seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his previous start — allowed manager Dusty Baker to rest his relievers after using six on Friday.
Abreu connected in Houston’s thee-run first off McKenzie, who was making just his second start after missing two months with a shoulder strain. McKenzie was lifted after five innings and 92 pitches.
Down 5-1, the Guardians, who never led Friday’s game until Brennan’s walk-off double in the 14th, made things interesting with a pair of runs in the seventh.
José Ramírez’s RBI single chased France, and Josh Naylor’s run-scoring single off reliever Bryan Abreu made it 5-3 before the right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Josh Bell with runners at second and third.
Cleveland put the first two on in the ninth with a single and error, but Pressly struck out Ramírez, gave up a sacrifice fly and then whiffed Brennan.
The Astros didn’t waste any time getting to McKenzie, who beat them twice last season while holding them to one run in 15 innings.
Abreu appears to be emerging from an extended power outage. Houston slugger’s, who didn’t hit his first homer of the season until May 28, drove a 2-2 pitch from McKenzie over the wall in left-center for his third homer.
The Guardians made history with their litany of late-game rallies Friday. They scored the tying or go-ahead run in the seventh, ninth, 12th, 13th and 14th innings.
According to OptaSTATS, Cleveland is the first team in the modern era to erase a deficit in five separate innings after the seventh.
Astros: RHP Ryne Stanek was placed on the bereavement/family medical emergency list shortly before the game. Houston didn’t have time to fill the roster spot before game time.
Guardians: All-Star 2B Andrés Giménez was not in the starting lineup after twisting his arm during Friday’s game. He came in as a pinch hitter.
With rain in Sunday’s forecast, the Guardians moved the start of series finale up an hour to 12:40 p.m. Astros RHP Brandon Bielak (3-2, 3.35 ERA) will face Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.57).
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