Semien’s grand slam caps 6-run 7th, Rangers beat Astros 9-1

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON – Marcus Semien hit a grand slam to cap a six-run seventh inning as the Texas Rangers beat the Astros 9-1 on Sunday night for their first series win at Houston in nearly five years.

The Rangers, who took two of three from the World Series champions, last won a series in Houston in July 2018 when Texas swept the Astros. Since that series, Texas had lost 10 straight series in Houston.

“This is a division series,” Semien said. “All of them count whether it’s the best team or the worst. All of them count in the division, and our goal is to win the division, so we need these games.”

Nathaniel Lowe doubled to lead off the seventh, tying his career high with an 11-game hitting streak. After an error by shortstop Jeremy Peña allowed Adolis García to reach, Josh Jung singled and Jonah Heim drew a bases-loaded walk to score Lowe.

Robbie Grossman followed with an RBI single to chase Astros starter Framber Valdez (1-2). Héctor Neris retired the next two batters before Semien’s grand slam to left field on an 0-2 pitch.

“I was definitely down in the hole,” Semien said. “I think it took me swinging and missing on the splitter to get a sense of where I really needed to start. … I got it exactly where I needed to get it, and of course this ballpark, short porch, so that was a bonus.”

Texas manager Bruce Bochy said the inning showed what the Rangers could do when they take advantage of a situation.

“Lowe started that inning, and we had some good at-bats,” Bochy said. “The whole order did something to put up that big number. Marcus topped it off. That’s what you’re hoping: Keep it close, then something like that happens where you break it open, and it couldn’t have worked out better for us.”

Heim added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and Leody Taveras hit a two-run double.

Andrew Heaney permitted two hits over five shutout innings for Texas. He struck out four and walked three.

The Astros threatened in the seventh as Brock Burke (1-0) walked the bases loaded. Jonathan Hernández struck out the next two hitters but walked Alex Bregman to force in Peña, who doubled to start the inning. Will Smith induced a groundout from Yordan Alvarez to end the inning.

Houston manager Dusty Baker called the loss disappointing.

“They scored seven unearned runs,” Baker said. “We didn’t play very well. We made some mistakes in the field. We made some mistakes on the bases. We had some opportunities. The 0-2 grand slam really hurt. That was the major difference in the game.”

Valdez yielded five runs – one earned – and four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. He retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced before running into trouble in the seventh.

“He had the walk (to Heim) on a close pitch, and we left him in there because nobody throws a groundball double play better than Framber,” Baker said. “They hit two balls through the infield that could have been double-play balls. You’re trying to get a double play, and he’s the best double-play guy that I had on the team, and even in the bullpen.”

Mauricio Dubón stretched his career-long hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the fifth, but was thrown out trying to advance to second.


Rangers: C Mitch Garver (left knee) will be “down a while,” Bochy said. Garver was placed on the injured list April 9.

Astros: OF Chas McCormick was out of the lineup for a second straight game after leaving Friday’s game with vision problems. Baker said McCormick wasn’t 100%, and he didn’t know if McCormick would be available on Monday. … OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder) took live batting practice, Baker said.


Bochy turned 68 on Sunday. He improved to 11-11 when managing on his birthday, including 8-5 in road games.


Rangers: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-0, 4.32 ERA) starts Monday opposite Royals RHP Jordan Lyles (0-2, 5.19 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series at Kansas City.

Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (1-0, 4.24 ERA) starts Monday at home in the opener of a three-game series against Blue Jays RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 1.35).

Yankees score runs in final three innings for 4-1 victory over Dodgers

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – Despite battling injuries all season, the New York Yankees are still managing to pick up victories.

With AL MVP Aaron Judge sidelined after injuring his foot on Saturday, the Yankees got strong pitching and were able to use a little bit of small ball to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 Sunday and take two of three games in the weekend series.

“Just a really good all-around effort. A lot of winning things were happening in that game,” manager Aaron Boone said.

New York plated runs in the seventh and eighth innings on soft-contract grounders before Anthony Volpe provided some insurance with a two-run homer in the ninth.

J.D. Martinez homered for the Dodgers, who dropped the final two games in the series.

Clay Holmes (4-2) pitched one inning to pick up the win, and Wandy Peralta got the last four outs for his fourth save.

It was a pitchers’ duel for six innings between the Yankees’ Domingo Germán and Dodgers’ Bobby Miller. The right-handers matched zeroes as the teams combined for only four hits in the first six innings.

Dodgers’ rookie Miller allowed only one hit in his six innings, becoming the first Dodgers’ pitcher since at least 1901 to allow one hit or fewer within his first three big league starts. The 24-year old right-hander struck out seven and walked two in his third start.

Germán went 6 2/3 innings and allowed one run and four hits, including Martinez’s solo shot to tie it at 1-all in the seventh. The right-hander has limited opponents to one run or fewer in four of his last six starts.

Jake Bauers – who was playing right field in place of Judge – scored the game’s first run in the seventh on Kyle Higashioka‘s broken-bat grounder to short.

Bauers got aboard with a base hit then advanced to third when Brusdar Graterol threw the ball away on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s bunt.

After Martinez’s homer, the Yankees retook the lead in the eighth against Evan Phillips (1-1). Oswaldo Cabrera drove in Anthony Rizzo with the go-ahead run with a slow roller that second baseman Miguel Vargas could only throw to first.

“It not being hit well helps when the fielders have to move a little. That’s what you’re selling out for. Good job by the base runners there,” Boone said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said both balls could not have been placed any better by the Yankees’ batters.

“I don’t think they had a chance on both balls. The base runners had such a good jump. They were jam shots,” Roberts said. “There were a lot of things we did as far as giving away a couple bases on the defensive side.”

Volpe had two hits after being mired in a 3-for-38 slump his last 11 games. He extended the lead by driving Caleb Ferguson’s fastball over the wall in left-center in the ninth. It was Volpe’s ninth homer, which is second among AL rookies.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence,” said Volpe after the Yankees took four of six on the road trip.


Martinez evened it in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to left-center. It was his 10th homer in the last 21 games.

Martinez has 20 homers against the Yankees, his third-most against any club. He has 35 against Baltimore and 23 vs. Cleveland. He is four homers away from 300 for his career.


Miller – the 29th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft – looked like he might have a short outing after throwing 27 pitches in the first inning. He struck out three but also walked two.

Miller retired seven straight between the third and fifth innings before Volpe lined a base hit to center field with two out in the fifth.

“It felt really good. Been working on my slider a lot lately.,” said Miller, who threw 86 pitches, including 39 sliders. “They know I have a good fastball so I have to have my other pitches working as well.”


Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes is expected to be placed on the injured list Monday or Tuesday due to a shoulder issue. Manager Aaron Boone said Cortes has been slower to recover between starts and is likely to miss one or two starts. … LHP Carlos Rendon (left forearm strain) will face hitters on Wednesday.

Dodgers: OF Trayce Thompson was placed on the injured list with a left oblique strain. OF Johnny Deluca was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City.


Yankees: Return home for six games starting Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Clarke Schmidt (2-5, 5.01 ERA) has gone at least five innings in six of his last eight starts.

Dodgers: Hit the road starting Tuesday against Cincinnati. RHP Tony Gonsolin (3-1, 1.77 ERA) has gone 3-0 in his last four starts.