Bregman laments 'terrible' play as Astros lose again to Royals
HOUSTON (AP) — Jordan Lyles gave up just two hits in five innings, Bobby Witt Jr. drove in his 93rd run of the season and the Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros 3-2 on Saturday night.
“It’s like groundhog day,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re playing hard, they’re playing good ball but we’re having trouble pushing runs across. You know hitting with runners in scoring position. When we do good we’re going to get a bunch of them for a period of time. I just feel that. We’re so close to breaking games open. Just didn’t get it done.”
Houston has lost four of its last five games and fell to 39-41 at home this year. Still, the Astros maintained their half-game lead for the final AL wild-card spot over Seattle with seven games remaining. The Mariners lost 2-0 to Texas earlier.
“It feels like we're playing terrible,” said Alex Bregman, who finished 0 for 3. “That's it. We're not playing good.”
The Royals have won nine of their last 10 games for the first time since July 20-30, 2017. The win also clinched a fourth straight series win for the first time since 2019.
“We know where we are as far as our youth and our inexperience," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “There's nobody that knows exactly what the timetable is but these kinds of wins are definitely going to go a long way for our guy's confidence.”
Lyles (5-17) held the Astros to just one hit through the first four innings, while striking out three and walking two. This was his best start since July 17 when he held Detroit to no runs and three hits in a no-decision.
“Every at-bat was a strong battle," Lyles said. "Those guys are one of the better lineups in baseball. It's going to make it difficult on you and they did a really good job. I wasn't able to go deep but five scoreless, team win, sign me up every day of the week for it.”
Taylor Clarke got the last five outs for his third save of the season.
“He just kept pumping strikes,” Quatraro said. “That last inning he was trying to not make a mistake and he just kept making quality after quality pitch. Those guys are dangerous and obviously without what he did we're not going to win that game.”
The Royals got to the Astros early again. Maikel Garcia led off the game against J.P. France (11-6) with an infield single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Yanier Diaz. Garcia scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by M.J. Melendez to make it 1-0.
Kansas City leads the American League in sacrifice flies this season with 56 — second in the majors behind only the Dodgers (66).
In the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Witt reached on a fielder’s choice and drove in Nick Pratto. A wild pitch by France later in the inning allowed Kyle Isbel to score, making it 3-0.
France gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five.
“Stuff was great, I'm pleased with that outing,” France said. “I went five innings, two earned. Was actually able to get some whiffs, get some strikeouts against these guys opposed to last time. ... Overall felt my stuff was really good today. Arm felt really good.”
Astros reliever Bryan Abreu struck out the side in the eighth inning to extend his scoreless innings streak to a major league-best 24 innings. Abreu has struck out 28 batters in this span.
Trailing 3-0, Chas McCormick led off the seventh inning blasting a ball 418 feet to the train tracks in left field to cut into the lead. It was the second straight game that McCormick homered.
“It's been frustrating, I've never been in this position before," McCormick said of the Astros' last eleven games. “Every team that's come to play us, they want to beat us badly and we just don't want it enough right now ... I don't think we're firing on all cylinders and putting a little pressure on ourselves."
The Astros inched closer in the eighth as back-to-back doubles by Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker made it 3-2. Alvarez finished 1 for 4 with the double, which extended his streak of games reaching base safely in to 29.
3 MILLION FANS
With 41,692 fans in attendance on Saturday night, the Astros surpassed 3 million fans for the fifth time in franchise history and for the first time since 2007.
Royals: C Salvador Perez (concussion) is likely to return to the lineup on Sunday, according to Quatraro. ... RHP Brad Keller has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He will decide whether to undergo surgery in the coming days, according to Quatraro.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley was out of the lineup for a fifth straight game Saturday with right shoulder soreness.
Astros RHP Hunter Brown (11-12, 4.87 ERA) will start Houston’s final home game of the regular season on Sunday. The Royals have not announced a starter.
AP MLB: https://www.apnews.com/hub/mlb