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Yuli Gurriel and Evan Gattis recorded multi-hit, multi-RBI games while rookie Framber Valdez delivered a strong pitching performance in a pinch as the Houston Astros capped a series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 6-2 win on Sunday in their season finale at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros (98-57) sliced their magic number to claim the American League West to three. Houston holds a 4 1/2-game lead on the second-place Athletics (94-60) after Oakland lost 5-1 to the visiting Minnesota Twins later Sunday afternoon.
Gurriel finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs. He belted his third home run of the series and 13th on the season with one out in the first inning against Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs (8-9), a two-run shot to left that drove home Jose Altuve. Gurriel added a leadoff single in the fifth and scored when Gattis (3-for-3, two RBIs) produced his second RBI single to extend the Astros lead to 5-1.
Gattis’ first run-scoring hit capped the scoring in the first by driving in left fielder Marwin Gonzalez. Skaggs departed with one out in the third, having allowed four runs on five hits.
Valdez (4-1) delivered in what amounted to an emergency start. He replaced Astros right-hander Charlie Morton to open the second inning and, per usual, pitched around traffic. Morton left the game after one inning with shoulder discomfort.
The Angels (75-81) put runners on base against Valdez in the second, third, fourth, and sixth innings. Valdez worked in and out of trouble each time, excluding the sixth, when pinch-hitter Jose Briceno homered to left field with one out. Briceno cut the deficit to 5-2 with his fourth homer.
Valdez has struggled with his control but did not issue a walk until there was one out in the fourth to Jefry Marte. He walked Angels center fielder Michael Hermosillo two batters later but recovered to strike out Sherman Johnson to end the inning. Valdez also recorded strikeouts to cap the sixth and seventh innings, finishing with nine strikeouts against two walks. He allowed three hits.
The six innings of relief were the most by an Astros reliever since Aug. 15, 2006.
—Field Level Media