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Oct 23, 2023 12:34 am

Nathan Eovaldi, Rangers beat Astros, force Game 7 of ALCS

HOUSTON — Texas Rangers right-hander Nathan Eovaldi remained unbeaten this postseason, but it was the support he received from contributors known and overlooked that aided his cause.

And thanks in large part to Eovaldi, the Rangers are now just one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2011.

Mitch Garver had three hits and two RBIs and Adolis Garcia socked a grand slam as Texas beat the Houston Astros 9-2 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday.

The Rangers squared the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and forced a decisive Game 7 set for Monday by extending their postseason road winning streak to seven games. Texas won for just the second time in 10 games when facing elimination and snapped a five-game skid in such contests.

The road team has won all six games of the ALCS. The road team won all seven games of the 2019 World Series, with the Astros falling to the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park.

Texas got a solo home run from Garver leading off the second inning and a two-run homer by Jonah Heim in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. Garcia capped a five-run ninth with his blast to left.

“I think seven out of their nine runs scored were on homers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “So you’ve really got to keep them in the ballpark. And you’ve got to keep them out of that big inning like their ninth was.”

Said Eovaldi: “Our offense was unbelievable today, Garver, Jonah did a great job. (Garcia) came up with a big hit. But we were able to settle down after that first inning.”

Eovaldi (4-0) settled in after surrendering an RBI single to Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the first that scored Jose Altuve. He retired the side in order in the second and fourth and worked around a pair of walks in the third before Alvarez led off the sixth with a single.

Alvarez went on to score on Mauricio Dubon’s sacrifice fly that cut the margin to 3-2, but Eovaldi held the line there. He departed after surrendering a one-out single to Altuve in the seventh. He was charged with two runs on five hits and three walks, and he struck out four.

The Astros finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Eovaldi and 1-for-8 overall.

“He’s done it so many times,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said of Eovaldi. “He has the ability to rise to the occasion. He has great stuff, start with that. But the makeup of this man, it’s amazing. He wants to be out there in a game like this. He has great stuff, four pitches. He’s got really good focus, maniacal focus on every pitch.”

Garver knotted the score at 1-1 with his second homer this postseason, an opposite-field blast to right off Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (0-3). Two innings later, Valdez quickly recorded two outs before Garver singled ahead of Heim, whose blast also went the opposite way to right.

Garver produced an RBI double in the eighth off Astros reliever Bryan Abreu, scoring Evan Carter, who reached on an infield single and stole second base.

Rangers closer Jose Leclerc then pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth, getting Dubon to hit a soft liner to shortstop Corey Seager before winning an eight-pitch confrontation with pinch hitter Jon Singleton with a strikeout to strand the bases loaded.

Garcia, who was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and serenaded with boos during every plate appearance, blew the game open with a grand slam off Astros reliever Ryne Stanek in the ninth.

–MK Bower, Field Level Media

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