Lance McCullers Jr. worked six strong innings while Kyle Tucker clubbed his 25th home run as the Houston Astros won the rubber match of their three-game series with the visiting Los Angeles Angels 3-1 on Sunday.
McCullers (12-4) set the Angels down in order only twice yet routinely worked his way out of trouble. He allowed one run on three hits and two walks while recording seven strikeouts.
The first two batters reached against McCullers in the first and second innings but he escaped both frames unscathed. He induced a pair of ground balls back to the mound in the top of the first, while also getting a called third strike on Jared Walsh to strand David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani in scoring position.
Brandon Marsh (hit by pitch) and Jack Mayfield (walk) reached base to open the second only for McCullers to strike out Kurt Suzuki before Juan Lagares hit into a double play.
Lagares earned a measure of revenge with one out in the fifth when he slugged his sixth home run on a 2-2 slider, becoming just the second right-handed hitter to homer off McCullers' slider this season. However, Lagares was the only batter to reach among the last 10 McCullers faced.
The tie game was short-lived as Tucker turned on a first-pitch fastball from Angels reliever Jose Quijada (0-1) in the fifth, driving the pitch 406 yards to right-center field to score Yuli Gurriel and lift Houston to the 3-1 lead.
Gurriel, who went 4-for-4, gave the Astros a 1-0 advantage in the first inning with an RBI single off Angels right-hander Jaime Barria, scoring Jose Altuve. Barria allowed four hits and four walks while striking out six batters over four innings.
The Astros (83-59) won despite stranding nine runners on base.
The Angels (70-73) fashioned a threat in the eighth against Astros reliever Kendall Graveman. But with Fletcher and Ohtani on base and one out, Graveman struck out Phil Gosselin before Walsh hit a fly ball to left that Yordan Alvarez secured.
Ryan Pressly notched his 24th save with a perfect ninth inning.
--Field Level Media