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Sep 21, 2022 10:47 pm

Lance McCullers Jr. pitches Astros to sweep of Rays

Kyle Tucker clubbed a mammoth two-run homer in Houston’s three-run eighth inning as the Astros swept their three-game series with Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, beating the Rays 5-2 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Facing fellow left-hander Brooks Raley (1-2) with the score tied at 2, Tucker ripped a first-pitch hanging slider 440 feet to center that landed beyond the netted stingray tank for a two-run shot — his 29th to go along with 102 RBIs.

The Astros (99-51), who have won 10 of their past 11 games and seven straight series, outscored the Rays (82-67) 14-2 in the series.

Martin Maldonado went 3-for-4 with a solo homer to center — his 14th, a 438-foot blast — and Aledmys Diaz (two RBIs, run) and Chas McCormick had two hits apiece.

Tampa native Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1) fired seven strong innings at the club he grew up cheering for in the dome. The right-hander yielded two runs on six hits while whiffing eight and walking two.

The Rays’ Isaac Paredes stroked his team-leading 20th home run, and Randy Arozarena had two hits and a stolen base.

Corey Kluber pitched seven sharp innings, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out two and walked one.

Diaz opened the scoring by lining an RBI single for a 1-0 lead — the third straight game the visitors scored in the first inning.

McCullers cruised in his seventh outing since returning from the 60-day injured list with a forearm injury suffered Oct. 12 in the American League Division Series against the Chicago White Sox.

His problems were pedestrian through five innings, but Wander Franco rapped a double through the shift with one out in the sixth.

After Arozarena’s single put runners on the corners, Houston second baseman Mauricio Dubon bobbled a double-play ball by David Peralta and had to settle for a fielder’s choice that allowed Franco to cross.

The Rays’ tally broke a 26-inning scoreless drought that started Sunday in a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers.

Paredes added on leading off the seventh on a 3-2 sinker up in the zone from McCullers. He turned on the 92-mph pitch and drilled it 408 feet just inside the left field foul pole.

In his second consecutive appearance notching a save in the series, Ryan Pressly walked one but earned his 30th with a scoreless ninth.

–Field Level Media

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