Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay ace pitcher Blake Snell allowed six hits and one run over five innings to lead the top-seeded Rays to a narrow victory over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Sunday night.
"I had to battle a lot," Snell told reporters after the 2-1 win over the sixth-seeded Astros at Petco Park in San Diego. "That is a tough lineup over there. I had to adjust my game plan a little bit, but I was fine with that."
Rays designated hitter Randy Arozarena tied the game with a fourth-inning home run before Mike Zunino hit a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth frame of the victory.
"I'll take it," Zunino said of his softly-hit single. "As long as it finds a hole. I'm happy that it squeaked through. Those are the ones that sometimes feel better than the hard-hit ones."
Rays relief pitchers John Curtiss, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Loup and Diego Castillo combined to allow just three hits and no runs over the final four innings of the victory. Castillo picked up a save after he allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hit a 388-foot solo home run off Snell in the second at-bat of the game to give Houston an early edge. Snell and Astros starter Framber Valdez did not allow a run for the next two innings before the Rays, who defeated the New York Yankees in the ALDS, tied the score in the fourth frame.
Valdez began the bottom of the inning by forcing a ground out from Mike Brosseau. Arozarena then stepped into the batter's box and fell behind 1-2 in the count. He fouled off two more pitches before he smashed the sixth offering of the exchange to center field for a 413-foot solo homer.
Snell got the Astros out in order in the top of the next inning and Valdez stayed in the game for the bottom of the fifth frame. He walked Willy Adames in the first at-bat and forced two ground outs before Zunino stepped up to the plate.
The Rays catcher smacked the first offering to center field to plate Adames for the go-ahead run.
Valdez allowed four hits and two runs in six innings for the Astros. Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier went 2 for 4 in the win. Altuve and Alex Bregman had two hits apiece for the Astros, who swept the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS.
The Astros battle the Rays in Game 2 at 4:07 p.m. EDT on Monday. Charlie Morton is expected to start for the Rays and Lance McCullers Jr. is on the mound for the Astros. The ALCS is being played on a neutral field in San Diego.