Hays’ two homers lead Orioles to 9-5 win over slumping Astros

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HOUSTON (AP) — Austin Hays hit two homers and had four RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles in a 9-5 victory over slumping Houston on Tuesday night, cutting the Astros’ AL West lead to a half-game over Texas.

Hays hit a three-run shot off Astros starter Hunter Brown (11-12) into the left-field Crawford Boxes to put Baltimore up 5-2 in the third inning. He followed with a solo shot to deep left-center field in the seventh, putting Baltimore up 8-5.

“It’s just been who we are all year,” Hays said. “It doesn’t matter what happened the day before, good or bad. We just move on to the next day, turn the page and prepare for whatever we’ve got that day.”

Houston entered Tuesday with a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL West over Texas and Seattle with 11 games remaining, but that lead was trimmed to one-half a game by the Astros’ loss and the Rangers’ 6-4 win against Boston. Houston has lost four of its last five games and six of its last eight.

The Orioles have won four straight and have a 2 1/2 game lead over Tampa Bay for the AL’s best record.

“What an amazing game by Hays,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We didn’t play our best baseball. We don’t usually beat ourselves, but our offense picked us up, and we did some good things.”

A two-run sixth inning extended Baltimore’s lead to 7-3 after James McCann scored Cedric Mullins on a bunt single and Gunnar Henderson singled to score Adam Frazier.

Heston Kjerstad also homered for Baltimore in the seventh.

Brown allowed seven runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, while striking out five and walking two.

Orioles starter Kyle Gibson went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, while striking out five and walking two. DL Hall (3-0) worked 2/3 of an inning to earn the win, and Cionel Perez earned his second save.

“We’re able to turn things around when we need to,” Gibson said. “This was just a full team win against a really good team who has proven that they’re one of the better teams in the AL. To come in here and do that was pretty special.”

Ryan O’Hearn hit a two-run homer to give Baltimore a first-inning lead. Houston tied it at 2 in the bottom of the inning when Kyle Tucker hit a two-run home run, his 28th of the season.

“I’ve got concern, but concern is not going to solve the issue,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said on the team’s struggles at home. “We’ve got four more games here, and we’re going to have to figure it out. I don’t know exactly what it is. We’ve tried to put our finger on it.”

Alex Bregman hit a homer in the third, cutting Baltimore’s lead to 5-3 and Yainer Diaz homered in the sixth, making it 7-5.

“You’ve got to execute in all three phases if you want to win, and we didn’t do that,” Bregman said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Baltimore: 1B Ryan Mountcastle (left shoulder discomfort) was out of the lineup again for a sixth consecutive game on Tuesday, but Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he’s feeling better and is close to a return.

Houston: RHP reliever Ryne Stanek (ankle) was placed on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land on Tuesday. Stanek suffered a sprained right ankle on Sept. 4.

FRUSTRATION MOUNTING

Astros bench coach Joe Espada was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning after appearing to complain about a strike call from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Cuzzi stopped the game to yell back at Espada before quickly tossing him.

ROAD WARRIORS

Baltimore improved to 50-26 on the road this season, marking just the second time in franchise history that the Orioles won 50 games on the road. The club record of 52 road wins was set in 1997.

HE SAID IT

“We’re putting up a lot of runs right now, and our pitching staff just continues to do what they’ve done all year. I feel like we’re clicking right now.” — Austin Hays

UP NEXT

In the series finale on Wednesday, Houston RHP Cristian Javier (9-4, 4.74 ERA) is scheduled to square off against Baltimore RHP Kyle Bradish (11-7, 3.12 ERA).

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb