BALTIMORE (AP) — Kyle Tucker fell behind 0-2 in the count against Félix Bautista and tried to make the best of a bad situation.
“I was just trying to get something over the plate and just kind of grind through it,” Tucker said. “I was just able to catch one out in front and time it well and put a good swing on it.”
Tucker’s grand slam off Bautista in the top of the ninth inning gave the Houston Astros a 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. After two quick strikes, Tucker took two pitches out of the zone and fouled off four more. Finally, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, he hit a drive to right for his fifth career grand slam and second this season.
Houston trailed 5-0 after Ryan Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman homered off Framber Valdez in the first and second innings, but the Astros pulled off a remarkable comeback in the ninth against arguably the game’s most dominant closer.
Pinch-hitter Jon Singleton led off the ninth with a walk, and Jose Altuve followed with a single. Bautista (6-2) struck out Alex Bregman, but Yordan Alvarez came within a few feet of tying it with a drive to center. Jorge Mateo — a shortstop making only his second start of the year in center field — robbed Alvarez of an extra-base hit earlier in the game, but he couldn’t catch this one, and the ball bounced off the wall for a very long single.
Tucker then battled Bautista before finally going deep on a 100 mph fastball. Bautista had allowed only five earned runs all season before Houston scored four on him in two-thirds of an inning.
Ryne Stanek (3-1) won in relief, and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 31 chances.
Baltimore’s lead over Tampa Bay atop the AL East dropped to two games. Houston entered the night three behind Texas in the AL West, with the Rangers playing later at Oakland.
Mountcastle’s 472-foot drive over both bullpens in left-center field at Camden Yards was the ballpark’s longest homer by an Oriole since Statcast began tracking in 2015. That gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead and ended — after two batters — any chance of a repeat no-hitter by Valdez. The Houston left-hander threw one against Cleveland in his previous start.
Orioles rookie Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Valdez yielded six runs and eight hits in seven innings.
After Mountcastle gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead, Ramón Urías hit a one-out triple in the second when Tucker dropped the ball in front of the wall in right field. Urías scored on James McCann’s soft grounder to the pitcher when Valdez’s throw home couldn’t get him. One out later, Rutschman’s two-run homer made it 5-0.
The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the third, but managed only two runs on Tucker’s single and Yainer Diaz’s sacrifice fly. McCann hit a sacrifice fly of his own in the fourth.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was ejected by first base umpire Edwin Moscoso after Houston’s Jeremy Peña was called safe on a close play at first in the sixth. The Orioles had already had an unsuccessful challenge, and this play wasn’t reviewed after Hyde came out to talk to Moscoso.
After Moscoso tossed him, Hyde became more animated, at one point throwing his hat on the ground.
“I got ejected with my back turned. That’s what upset me,” Hyde said. “I just didn’t think it was necessary to throw me out.”
Peña hit an RBI single in the eighth to make it 6-3.
Mountcastle’s homer is not the longest overall at Camden Yards in the Statcast era. Carlos Correa — then with Houston — hit one in 2019 that was 474 feet.
Spectators chanted “Free Kevin Brown!” on multiple occasions in response to reports that the broadcaster was taken off the air over his comments on a MASN telecast that mentioned the Orioles’ struggles at Tampa Bay in recent years. An Orioles official said Monday the team looked forward to having Brown back soon.
Orioles: Urías exited the game with left heel discomfort. … LHP John Means (left elbow surgery) is set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Double-A Bowie.
RHP Jack Flaherty (1-0) makes his second start since the Orioles acquired him from St. Louis against Houston’s Cristian Javier (7-2) on Wednesday night.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
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