Abreu, Alvarez and Altuve power Astros to rout of Rangers in Game 4

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer right after Yordan Alvarez’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and the Houston Astros pulled even in the AL Championship Series with a 10-3 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game 4 on Thursday night.

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Houston, which led 3-0 only four batters into the game, responded immediately after Texas got even on Corey Seager’s opposite-field homer in the third inning.

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Adolis Garcia also homered for the wild-card Rangers, who have dropped two games in a row at home after starting this postseason with seven consecutive wins — six on the road. That included sweeps of the AL’s two winningest teams, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Game 5 is Friday afternoon at Globe Life Field, where the defending World Series champion Astros are 8-1 this season. The home team has yet to lead in this ALCS, which switches back to Houston for Game 6 on Sunday night.

“We’re playing a good team. Nobody thought it was going to be easy,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “(The Astros) have played very well in this ballpark. We need to change that. We know it.”

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Jose Altuve had three hits and scored three times in his 100th career playoff game. Alvarez drove in three runs, giving him 13 RBIs already this postseason, and Chas McCormick added a two-run homer.

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“That means a lot, obviously. It makes it even more special because we won,” said Altuve, who became the seventh big leaguer to play in 100 playoff games. “Nothing’s done yet, but to be able to get the opportunity to come back and tie the series … it’s really important for us.”

Dane Dunning, who entered in relief in the first inning, had an 0-2 count against No. 9 batter Martin Maldonado to open the fourth with the game tied before walking him and then Altuve.

Mauricio Dubon followed with his second soft single of the game before Alex Bregman struck out with the bases loaded. Rookie lefty Cody Bradford came in to face Alvarez, whose 401-foot sac fly to the warning track in center field came on the ninth pitch. Abreu then hit his fourth homer this postseason to make it 7-3.

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Ryne Stanek got the win while throwing only one pitch, inducing Mitch Garver’s inning-ending double-play grounder in the third.

The Astros have outscored Texas 74-32 in winning their last seven games at Globe Life. That includes their 8-5 win in Game 3 of the first postseason series between the instate AL West rivals.

“It just happens. We come here, we focus and everybody does a good job,” Dubon said, otherwise unable to offer an explanation for why the Astros are so good there. “It’s showing right now.”

Altuve opened the game with a double and Dubon, after three hits in Game 3, followed with a bloop single off Andrew Heaney. Bregman drove both home with a triple into the right-center gap, and the Rangers already had Dunning up in the bullpen before Alvarez singled to make it 3-0.

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Seager became the first shortstop to homer in both the NLCS and ALCS with his 401-foot solo drive to left-center with one out in the third. Astros starter Jose Urquidy then gave up back-to-back singles before Stanek took over.

The Rangers were down 7-3, but had two on with no outs in the fifth when a finger of Marcus Semien’s batting glove was the difference between a lineout and a crucial double play. The Rangers baserunner was sliding back to the bag at first base after Abreu snagged Seager’s 108.6 mph liner, lunging to tag Semien just as his hand reached the bag, and first base umpire Jordan Baker signaled safe.

The Astros challenged, and the video review showed Abreu’s glove grazing one of the fingers on the batting glove in Semien’s back pocket as the finger popped into the air from the rear pocket. Texas had only two more baserunners after that play.

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BIG PRODUCTION

Alvarez and Abreu are the first teammates in postseason history with at least four homers and 10 RBIs in a team’s first eight playoff games.

SEAGER DINGERS

Seager was with the Los Angeles Dodgers when they played 16 neutral-site playoff games at Globe Life Field while winning the World Series title in 2020. Seager was MVP in both the NLCS and World Series. He hit five homers in that seven-game NLCS, two in the World Series and has two here this postseason. He also went deep in their Game 3 AL Division Series clincher at home over Baltimore.

UP NEXT

Game 5 will be rematch of the trade-deadline acquisitions who started the series opener. Rangers left-hander Jordan Montgomery threw 6 1/3 innings in Game 1 as Texas won 2-0. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who allowed both runs over six innings, will make his 21st career postseason start for the Astros. They got him back from the Mets after he made only 16 starts in New York this year after going there in free agency.

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FOR STARTERS

It was the first time in Heaney’s 156 career starts (154 regular season and two postseason) that he didn’t make it out of the first inning. The left-hander was done after a two-out walk. He allowed of the seven batters he faced to reach base. … Urquidy, who allowed three runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings, entered the game 5-0 with a 2.82 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers.

OPEN ROOF

A game was played at Globe Life Field with the roof open for the first time in nearly five months. It was 78 degrees under clear skies when the game began. Texas was 7-4 during the regular season with the roof open, the last game being May 21. The roof was open for 13 of the 16 neutral-site postseason games in 2020, including three of the six World Series games.

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