Astros Build Lead vs. Nationals: Live Score and Updates


The Astros pushed their lead to 3-1 when Jose Altuve, who has hit balls hard off Sanchez all night, doubled. He scored when Michael Brantley worked a good at-bat and got some help on some borderline low pitches that home plate Gary Cederstrom called balls. Ahead 3-1, Brantley got a pitch over the plate and singled to right field.

Sanchez coughed up another single, to Yuli Gurriel, but wriggled out of the inning when Carlos Correa grounded out.

Greinke has had traffic on the bases each inning and it drove up his pitch count. The dam finally broke in the bottom half of the inning. After Adam Eaton singled, Greinke got Anthony Rendon to fly out and fooled Juan Soto with his curveball. But Asdrubal Cabrera — remember that he has a good track record against Greinke — smoked a double to right field, putting two runners in scoring position.

Astros Manager A.J. Hinch yanked Greinke after that and called upon hard-throwing, command-challenged reliever Josh James. He and Ryan Zimmerman locked horns for an eight-pitch at-bat which included a high and inside 98-mile-per-hour fastball that sent Zimmerman diving to the ground. James prevailed by striking Zimmerman out with a change-up.

Greinke’s final line: one run, seven hits, three walks and six strikeouts over four and one-third hard-fought innings.

Sanchez had a 1-2-3 frame against the bottom of the Astros’ order, getting two strikeouts and a pop-out.

Greinke’s command problems have finally hurt him. He walked Ryan Zimmerman on seven pitches to lead off the inning. He jumped ahead of Zimmerman, 1-2, but missed with two change-ups. Two batters later, Victor Robles hammered a fastball down the heart of the plate into the left field corner for a triple. Zimmerman scored easily to trim the Nationals’ deficit to 2-1.

Greinke walked two batters over his final 43 2/3 innings in the regular season. He has walked three Nationals already in Game 3.

After Robles tripled, Sanchez stepped to the plate and did something puzzling: he tried to bunt twice and ended up striking out. Robles is fast and Greinke is a good fielder, so the strategy was unclear. Nationals Manager Dave Martinez stuck with Sanchez instead of using a pinch hitter, likely wanting to avoid his bullpen for one more inning.

Sanchez isn’t fooling the Astros, who were the best team at making contact during the regular season. Jose Altuve doubled on the first pitch of the frame and took third when Nationals left fielder Juan Soto bobbled the ball. He scored when Michael Brantley singled up the middle on a ball deflected by Sanchez. The Astros lead, 2-0.

Something to watch: the Astros weren’t particularly prolific in terms of stolen bases during the regular season. But Brantley nabbed second against Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki, who threw out just 5 of 50 base stealers during the regular season.

Greinke’s command has been shaky: he is through three innings on 65 pitches, compared to Sanchez’s 50. Trea Turner singled, and Adam Eaton and Juan Soto drew walks. But Greinke got away with a mistake over the middle of the plate to Anthony Rendon, who flied out, and he unfurled one of his trademark slow curveballs to strike out Asdrubal Cabrera to end the bases-loaded threat.

The Astros struck first against the Nationals as Sanchez fell behind batters and his pitches caught too much of the plate. He coughed up three straight hits: a Carlos Correa double, a Josh Reddick run-scoring single and a Robinson Chirinos single.

The Reddick hit was the key one in the frame: he flicked his bat at a split-finger fastball outside and put his head down as he took off for first base. Juan Soto, the Nationals left fielder, had a very slim chance of throwing out the speedy Correa at home plate. His throw certainly didn’t help; it went over the catcher Kurt Suzuki’s head.

Asdrubal Cabrera was starting at second base for the Nationals on Friday over Howie Kendrick, one of the team’s best hitters this postseason, because he was 16 for 37 in his career versus Greinke. In addition, Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said the team’s analytics showed Cabrera hit the ball in the air against Greinke, as opposed to Kendrick’s ground balls.

Cabrera and Ryan Zimmerman singled in the bottom of the second inning. But Greinke escaped the damage by striking out Suzuki and getting Robles to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Both teams got a base runner on but nothing from it. Anibal Sanchez gave up a leadoff infield single to George Springer and got to second on a stolen base. But Sanchez was aided by a five-catch by Victor Robles, who ranged deep to center, twisted his body and stretched his glove to rob Jose Altuve of a sure run-scoring double.

In the bottom half of the inning, Anthony Rendon doubled off Zack Greinke with two outs but that was it. Trea Turner, the Nationals’ leadoff hitter, had a loud out: his flyout was caught at the warning track by Michael Brantley.

Before the game, the mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, said “play ball” and Chad Cordero, an All-Star during the Nationals’ inaugural season in Washington in 2005, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Astros

1. George Springer, CF

2. Jose Altuve, 2B

3. Michael Brantley, LF

4. Alex Bregman, 3B

5. Yuli Gurriel, 1B

6. Carlos Correa, SS

7. Josh Reddick, RF

8. Robinson Chirinos, C

9. Zack Greinke, P

Because both teams lost the designated hitter playing in a National League park on Friday, one of the Nationals’ best hitters, Howie Kendrick, the M.V.P. of the N.L.C.S, is on the bench, and Asdrubal Cabrera is starting at second base.

Nationals

1. Trea Turner, SS

2. Adam Eaton, RF

3. Anthony Rendon, 3B

4. Juan Soto, LF

5. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B

6. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B

7. Kurt Suzuki, C

8. Victor Robles, CF

9. Anibal Sanchez, P



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