MLB: Framber Valdez, Astros’ bats team up to finish sweep of O’s

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Framber Valdez produced his fourth quality start this month and the Houston Astros parlayed a four-run first inning into an 8-1 victory over the visiting Baltimore Orioles, completing a three-game series sweep on Sunday.

Valdez (6-5) continued his exceptional pitching this month, excluding a ragged four-inning performance in San Francisco on June 12. He posted his eighth quality start of the season by limiting the Orioles to one run on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over seven innings. Valdez threw 104 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Jose Altuve ignited the Astros with his 38th career leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, driving a first-pitch fastball from Orioles starter Albert Suarez (3-2) out to left. The Astros produced six hits in the first, including doubles from Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena, who was the second of three consecutive batters to produce run-scoring hits in the frame. Mauricio Dubon capped the surge with an RBI single that scored Pena and gave the Astros a 4-0 lead.

Valdez retired the Orioles in order only once, doing so with the help of a pair of strikeouts in the fourth inning. But he routinely worked around baserunners, stranding a pair in the first and fifth innings while leaving runners on first base in the second and third.

Baltimore managed only two at-bats with runners in scoring position against Valdez, who got a called third strike on Jordan Westburg to cap the first before Anthony Santander rolled into an inning-ending fielder’s choice in the fifth.

Westburg bashed his 13th home run to left field with one out in the sixth, the lone tally against Valdez, who induced 12 groundball outs and recorded 11 swings and misses.

Houston’s Yainer Diaz added a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning before Pena struck again with a two-run double in the sixth. Pena and Diaz both produced three-hit games and had three RBIs each. Bregman finished 4-for-4 with a walk and scored twice, posting his ninth career four-hit game.

Suarez allowed five runs on 10 hits and three walks with three strikeouts over five innings.

Baltimore absorbed its second sweep this season. The Orioles suffered a three-game road sweep to the St. Louis Cardinals May 20-22.

–Field Level Media

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