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Astros, Wandy Rodriguez agree to three-year, $34 million extension

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Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Astros and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $34 million contract extension.

The deal also includes a vesting option for 2014 which could net him as much as $44.5 million, according to Alyson Footer, Sr. Director of Social Media for the Astros. Rodriguez, who turned 32 last week, was arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter, so the Astros have at least bought out his first two years of free agency.

Rodriguez has a 4.18 ERA over his first six seasons in the major leagues, but while he doesn’t look like a front-line starter on paper, only 10 pitchers (with more than 500 innings pitched) have a lower ERA since the start of the 2008 season.

1. Roy Halladay – 2.67 ERA

2. Adam Wainwright – 2.68 ERA

3. Felix Hernandez – 2.69 ERA

4. Tim Lincecum – 2.83 ERA

5. Johan Santana – 2.85 ERA

6. Cliff Lee – 2.98 ERA

7. CC Sabathia – 3.07 ERA

8. Zack Greinke – 3.25 ERA

9. Matt Cain – 3.27 ERA

10. Jon Lester – 3.29 ERA

11. Wandy Rodriguez – 3.36 ERA

Rodriguez figures to be a big part of the rebuilding process in Houston — and with Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris and (eventually) top prospect Jordan Lyles, they may actually be better than you think  — but this contract isn’t necessarily something that would scare off another club should they decide to explore a trade sometime down the road.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.