MLB: Gurriel homers twice as Astros punch playoff ticket
By Kristie Rieken
HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel hit a grand slam and a two-run homer on his way to a career-high seven RBIs, and the Houston Astros clinched a postseason berth by routing the Los Angeles Angels 11-3 on Friday night.
George Springer added a three-run shot in the eighth for the Astros, who are still looking to secure the AL West title. The defending World Series champions began the day with a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Oakland.
Houston starter Gerrit Cole (15-5) allowed three hits and three runs in seven innings in his fifth straight win. He also struck out 12, giving him 1,006 for his career and moving him in front of teammate Justin Verlander (269) for most in the AL this season with 272.
Gurriel hit his third career grand slam in the first inning. He connected for his 12th homer against Andrew Heaney (9-10) in the third and singled in Tyler White in the fifth.
It was his first career multi-homer game. His brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also homered twice for Toronto on Friday night, marking the first time in major league history that brothers had multi-homer games on the same day.
Gurriel’s seven RBIs were the most for a Houston player since J.R. Towles set a franchise record with eight 11 years ago on Friday.
Mike Trout homered for the second straight game for the Angels, who lost their third in a row. They have allowed 42 runs combined in those three losses.
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman hit consecutive singles with one out in the first and Heaney walked Marwin Gonzalez to load the bases. Gurriel then belted an opposite-field shot to right field.
Gonzalez walked again with one out in the third before Gurriel drove an 81-mph curveball into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Heaney allowed six runs in three innings.
Jose Fernandez doubled with two outs in the sixth before Trout’s 37th homer cut Houston’s lead to 7-2. Andrelton Simmons tripled with one out in the seventh and scored on a single by Francisco Arcia.
• Astros: SS Carlos Correa was out of the lineup and manager A.J. Hinch said he’ll sit out until at least Monday as he continues to deal with soreness in his lower back. “Carlos is still not right,” Hinch said. “He’s played through it and it hasn’t worked out.” Correa was on the disabled list from June 26-Aug. 10 and has struggling since his return, hitting just .174 in with one homer and 13 RBIs in 34 games.
Verlander (16-9, 2.67 ERA) opposes Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.61 ERA) when the series continues Saturday night. Verlander has won his last three starts and needs just one strikeout to set a career high. Barria is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts against the Astros this season.
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