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WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning streak to 11 games with a 6-1 rout of the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

Houston manager Dusty Baker, who led Washington to consecutive NL East titles in 2016 and ’17, won in his first game back at Nationals Park since he was fired after two seasons.

Framber Valdez (2-2) allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings to earn his first victory since April 7 and help extend the Astros’ pitching dominance. Houston has allowed just 12 runs during its streak with an 0.91 ERA in that stretch.

Washington has lost seven of its last nine and is 4-14 at home. Its 11-23 record after 34 games is its worst since opening 9-25 in 2007.

Baker was 192-132 in his two seasons in Washington, but was fired after the Nationals lost in the division series both years. He was introduced on the video board about 10 minutes before the first pitch Friday and was cheered by the smattering of early arriving fans.

It was the first meeting that counted between the franchises — who share a spring training facility — since the 2019 World Series. Dave Martinez, Baker’s successor, led the Nationals to their first championship in a series that saw the road team win all seven games.

Houston promptly made itself at home again in the nation’s capital, with Altuve belting Josiah Gray’s first offering to dead center for his third leadoff homer of the season and 24th of his career. Gurriel’s two-run homer capped a five-run first for the Astros, and Alvarez’s solo shot in the third made it 6-0.

Gray (4-3) allowed six runs and six hits in six innings while striking out five.

Valdez struck out six during his longest outing of the year, yielding his only run on Alcides Escobar’s fielder’s choice grounder in the seventh.


Astros: SS Jeremy Peña did not play, a day after leaving the second game of a doubleheader at Minnesota with a knee injury. “Hopefully, he’ll be available in this series, but I’m not exactly sure when,” Baker said.

Nationals: Escobar, who missed three games with an infected nail on his left index finger, returned to the lineup.


The thing that stood out most to Baker in his first trip to Nationals Park since 2017? The amount of construction.

“They’ve done a lot of building around here,” Baker said. “I wish I had invested in some of that, or some big cranes.”


Justin Verlander tossed Houston’s last no-hitter in 2019, but the Astros came within five outs of a combined no-no last year in Baltimore. However, umpire Angel Hernandez missed a called third strike on Maikel Franco, who proceeded to homer on the next pitch.

Hernandez worked at second base Friday, which means he’s in line to start Verlander’s scheduled start Sunday. And sure enough, Franco will be there, too; he’s Washington’s everyday third baseman this season.


Washington wore its dark blue alternate jerseys for the first time this season. The Nationals used the same jerseys throughout the 2019 World Series against the Astros, including in their Game 7 victory.


Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (2-0, 0.83 ERA) has thrown 8 1/3 shutout innings this month and opponents are hitting .153 against him in 21 2/3 innings this season.

Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (2-2, 3.90) is 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 lifetime appearances against American League opponents, but Saturday will be his first game against Houston.


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Pujols pitches 9th, Cardinals roll to 15-6 win over Giants

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Yadier Molina homered and drove in four runs and Adam Wainwright tossed six effective innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 15-6 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday night that ended with veteran slugger Albert Pujols on the mound.

Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado each added a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who took two of three in the series after losing two of three to Baltimore. Goldschmidt drove in three runs.

Pujols, the Cardinals’ designated hitter, came into the game as a pitcher for the first time in his career in the ninth inning. He gave up a three-run homer to Luis Gonzalez and a solo homer to Joey Bart but managed to get the final three outs.

Joc Pederson had a two-run homer for San Francisco, which lost its second in a row after winning six straight.

Molina capped a four-run outburst in the first inning off Carlos Rodon (4-2) with a two-run single. Molina added a two-run homer off reliver Zack Littell in the fifth to push the lead to 11-0.

Wainwright (4-3) gave up two runs and three hits. He struck out five and walked two. The right-hander retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced. Gonzalez got the Giants’ first hit with a two-out single in the fifth.

Wainwright and Molina set a major league record with 203 wins by a starting battery. They passed Warren Spahn and Del Crandall, who amassed 202 wins for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves from 1949-63.

The St. Louis duo has started 311 games together, third all-time behind Spahn/Crandall (316) and Mickey Lolich/Bill Freehan (324) of the Detroit Tigers from 1963-75.

Rodon (4-2) allowed eight runs and 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one. He had given up just seven earned runs over his previous six starts this season.

Every St. Louis starter had a hit by the sixth inning.

St. Louis rookie outfielder Juan Yepez singled in the first inning. He has reached safely in each of his first 11 games, the longest streak by a Cardinals rookie since Luis Alicea reached in 23 successive games to begin his career in 1988.

The Cardinals went 0-4 in Sunday night games last year before winning in their first try this season.

Gonzalez came in from the outfield to pitch in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. He gave up a run-scoring single to Dylan Carlson before getting Harrison Bader to fly out.


San Francisco RHP Yunior Marte was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and gave up two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief. INF Donovan Walton was sent to Sacramento. Walton had one hit in four at-bats with the Giants.


Cardinals: RHP Alex Reyes has been shut down after experiencing more shoulder soreness. Reyes, sidelined all season, felt more discomfort while playing catch. He had an MRI last week and will remain inactive until the results are known. “Unsure if it’s the same area,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “But it is shoulder discomfort.”


Giants: LHP Alex Wood (3-2, 3.60 ERA) will face Colorado RHP Antonio Senzatela (2-2, 4.88) in the opener of a three-game series in Denver on Monday. Wood did not allow an earned run over 5 1/3 innings in a 9-2 win against Colorado on Tuesday.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (3-1, 1.49) faces the Mets in the opener of a four-game set Monday night in New York — weather permitting. Mikolas has allowed two runs or fewer in all seven starts this season. The Mets had not annouced a starter yet.

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