Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke allowed five hits and two runs in six innings in a playoff win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in San Diego. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros avoided elimination and a sweep in the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night with a narrow victory in Game 4.
Astros pitcher Zack Greinke allowed five hits and two runs and threw seven strikeouts in six innings in the 4-3 win at Petco Park in San Diego. Jose Altuve and George Springer each homered for Houston.
"Nobody's ready to go home," Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters. "I'm not ready to go home. Nobody's ready to go home.
"We're ready to go to [Arlington, Texas, for the World Series]. ... We're one step closer to the top of that mountain, but we have a couple steep cliffs the next couple days."
The Rays remain one game away from a trip to the World Series and now lead the best-of-seven ALCS 3-1. Tampa Bay is looking for its second American League pennant in the franchise's 23rd year of existence. The Rays lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series.
Greinke retired the first nine Rays hitters in order and Altuve smashed a 400-foot solo homer to left field to give Houston an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Altuve then drove in another run with an RBI double in the bottom of the third to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena tied the score in the top of the next inning. Manuel Margot struck out in the first at-bat of the inning before Austin Meadows ripped a single to right field.
Arozarena then worked an early lead in the count before he smashed a 3-1 Greinke curveball over the left field fence for a 375-foot, two-run homer. Arozarena's laser longball traveled off his bat at 102 mph and needed just four seconds to leave the field, according to Statcast.
Rays starter Tyler Glasnow retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the fourth before Houston took the lead in the next inning. Josh Reddick began the half-inning with a flyout before Martin Maldonado singled to left field.
Springer then stepped into the batter's box and pelted a 2-1 Glasnow fastball to left field for a 405-foot, two-run homer to give Houston a 4-2 lead.
Rays shortstop Willy Adames plated Joey Wendle with an RBI double in the top of the ninth inning for the final run of the game. Astros relief pitcher Ryan Pressly forced a lineout from Yoshi Tsutsugo to end the game and earn a save.
Glasnow allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings in the loss. Altuve went 2 for 4 with two RBIs for Houston. Springer went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Meadows went 2 for 4 for the Rays.
"I think I went out there with just one really good pitch," said Glasnow, who used a fastball as his primary offering. "They have a really good team and are a really good-hitting team.
"When you go out there and have one pitch, it makes your job a whole lot harder. It's a matter of getting ahead and being able to throw my secondary [pitches] where I want them."
"They are a very talented team that can put pressure on your pitching and defense constantly," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I'm very pleased with the way we've performed. We are fortunate to be in the spot and we'll get ready to play [Thursday]."
The Rays will look to clinch their second trip to the World Series in Game 5 Thursday at 5:07 p.m. EDT at Petco Park. The teams have yet to reveal which pitchers will start.
The ALCS is being played at neutral Petco Park in San Diego, while the National League Championship Series is being staged at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The winner of the ALCS will face the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves, who lead the series 2-1.
Miami Marlins players pose for a picture after defeating the Chicago Cubs 2-0
in the National League Wild Card Game to win their first playoff series in 17 years in Chicago on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo