Tue, 05 Dec 2023

Cole Ragans, Royals shut down Astros in 7-5 win

Field Level Media
23 Sep 2023, 13:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Cole Ragans produced his seventh quality start since being acquired by the Kansas City Royals, who rode an ambush first inning into a 7-5 win over the host Houston Astros on Friday.

The Royals (52-102) earned their third victory in four games against the spiraling Astros, who fell behind the Texas Rangers and out of first place in the American League West with their seventh loss in 10 games. Houston (85-69) occupies the third AL wild card spot, one-half game ahead of the Seattle Mariners, who lost 8-5 to Texas.

Ragans (7-4) held a four-run lead before he took the mound in the bottom of the first. He allowed one run when Yordan Alvarez smoked a one-out double to left-center field that scored Jeremy Pena from first. The Astros halved the deficit an inning later by getting a leadoff, opposite-field home run to Jose Abreu.

But Ragans, acquired from Texas on June 30, thwarted the Astros repeatedly over his final four innings of work. He retired the side in order in the third and fifth innings and worked around a leadoff triple by Kyle Tucker in the fourth by sandwiching two groundouts around his strikeout of Mauricio Dubon.

When Alvarez and Alex Bregman walked in succession to open the sixth, Ragans buckled down again and recorded three consecutive outs to stymie the Astros once more. Ragans allowed two runs on three hits and four walks with five strikeouts over six innings by limiting the Astros to an 0-for-8 showing with runners in scoring position.

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (12-11) wasn't as resourceful. The first five batters reached against Valdez in the first, starting with a passed ball by catcher Martin Maldonado that allowed Maikel Garcia to reach despite striking out. Bobby Witt Jr. followed with an RBI triple before MJ Melendez added a run-scoring single. Edward Olivares (RBI double) and Nick Loftin (sacrifice fly) extended the rally to four runs.

Valdez found his stride over the ensuing four frames but opened the sixth with consecutive hit batsmen. One batter after Nick Pratto extended the Royals' lead to 5-2, Kyle Isbel knocked out Valdez with a bloop two-run single to center.

Houston fashioned a rally in the eighth courtesy of a three-run home run by Chas McCormick off Jackson Kowar, but James McArthur stranded runners at the corners in that frame before silencing the Astros with a perfect ninth for his second save.

--Field Level Media

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