Blue Jays stay alive, Astros push Royals to brink

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Troy Tulowitzki AFP PHOTO

Troy Tulowitzki AFP PHOTO

ARLINGTON, United States: Troy Tulowitzki broke out of his post-season doldrums on Sunday (Monday in Manila), belting a three-run homer to lift Toronto to a 5-1 victory that kept them alive in their Major League Baseball playoff series against Texas.

The Rangers still lead the Blue Jays in the best-of-five American League Division Series 2-1, and can advance with a win when they host the Blue Jays in game four on Monday.

The winners of the series will face either the Houston Astros or Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

Astros first baseman Chris Carter had three hits, including his first post-season home run, as Houston beat the visiting Royals 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in their series.


With a win at home on Monday, the Astros can end the Royals’ bid to return to the World Series a season after they fell in the title showcase to the San Francisco Giants.

Blue Jays shortstop Tulowitzky was 0-for-10 in the first two games of the series against Texas—shock wins for the underdog Rangers in Toronto.

He was dropped to sixth in the batting order for the first time this season. The move paid off when he collected a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning that put Toronto up 2-0.

Two innings later Tulowitzki broke the game open with his three-run homer to left field with two outs off Texas reliever Chi Chi Gonzalez.

“I had a good pitch to hit, and finally put a good swing on one,” Tulowitzki said.

“Tomorrow (if) we get a win, we go back to Toronto. So this was huge for us.”

His output was plenty of support for Toronto starting pitcher Marco Estrada, who allowed five hits and one run over 6 1/3 innings.

Estrada struck out four and didn’t issue a walk. The Rangers didn’t have a baserunner until third baseman Hanser Alberto hit a two-out double in the bottom of the third frame.

By then, the Blue Jays had put up one run against Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez, with catcher Dioner Navarro scoring on a double-play ground ball in the third.

Toronto doubled the advantage in the fourth when Tulowitzki drew a run-batted-in walk.

After two perfect innings to open the contest, Perez struggled with his command and finished by walking three and allowing four runs on six hits.

He was pulled after allowing back-to-back hits to open the sixth inning.

The Rangers scored their lone run in the seventh on a ground ball from second baseman Rougned Odor.

Keuchel wins again at home
In Houston, starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel held Kansas City to one run in seven innings to lead the Astros to victory.

He threw a season-high 124 pitches and stranded runners at first and third base in each of his final two innings.

In the seventh, Keuchel — unbeaten at home this season — stayed in the game to face Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who had smacked a towering homer to lead off the fourth inning and represented the tying run in a two-run game.

Keuchel struck him out and left the game having allowed one run on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.

Carter belted a one-out double in the fifth inning, singled and hit a first-pitch leadoff home run in the seventh off Royals left-hander Danny Duffy.

Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez had kept the Astros in check through four innings using a baffling breaking ball.

He took a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning but surrendered a two-run single to Astros catcher Jason Castro that gave the lead to Houston for good.

The Astros added insurance runs in the sixth and seventh.

AFP

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