Sun Jul 3 6:50am ET
One game after a trio of players in the bottom half of the batting order recorded multi-hit games, the Houston Astros rolled to a 9-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on the strength of nine-hole hitter Martin Maldonado posting a multi-homer performance.
Maldonado homered in the second and sixth inning to spark a five-homer surge for the Astros, who can sweep the three-game series with a victory on Sunday.
Left fielder Chas McCormick went 2-for-4 and homered for a second consecutive game while batting eighth in the lineup.
In the series opener on Friday, J.J. Matijevic, Jake Meyers and McCormick each recorded two hits while occupying the sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the batting order.
"That's big because it rolls your lineup around to get to the big guys, including (Jose) Altuve," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "That's real big when you've. got the lineup turning over. That spells a good day for us the more times they come to the plate early."
Left-hander Framber Valdez (8-3, 2.65 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Sunday.
Valdez produced his longest scoreless outing of the season on Tuesday, limiting the New York Mets to six hits and two walks while recording five strikeouts over eight shutout innings in a 9-1 victory. He has recorded 12 consecutive quality starts, going 7-2 with a 2.33 ERA during that span with a .207 opponent batting average and 68 strikeouts in 81 innings.
Valdez is 7-4 with a 4.15 ERA in 13 career appearances (nine starts) against the Angels, including a 1-1 mark and 4.91 ERA in two starts this season. He was saddled with a home loss against Los Angeles on April 19, during which he allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Left-hander Jose Suarez (1-2, 4.36) is the scheduled starter for the Angels on Sunday.
Suarez earned the win last Sunday, limiting the Seattle Mariners to one run on five hits with a career high-tying eight strikeouts over six innings in a 2-1 victory. He is 0-2 with a 5.13 ERA over six starts this season with 25 strikeouts and 16 walks in 26 1/3 innings.
Suarez is 2-3 with a 5.10 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts) against the Astros. He allowed two runs on two hits and four walks with two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings in a 4-1 home loss to Houston in his season debut on April 10.
The Angels signed veteran infielder Jonathan Villar and added him to the active roster. Villar spent his first three seasons (2013-15) in the majors with the Astros and slashed .222/.271/.327 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 46 games with the Chicago Cubs this season prior to his release.
Villar has also spent time with five other organizations and will join an Angels roster in need of help at third base following the loss of Anthony Rendon to season-ending wrist surgery.
"It's exciting," Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said of the acquisition. "He's certainly had some big years in the league and not too far away from those. He struggled a little bit this year but by all the reports that we've gotten he's a good guy, loves to play the game and brings a lot of energy, has some edge to him. (Villar) can steal some bases and he's played third. He's played a lot of third and he's going to get the majority of his work there."
--Field Level Media