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Astros pull even in ACLS with Game 4 rout of Rangers

(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)



ARLINGTON — The best-of-7 American League Championship Series is now a best-of-3, and the Rangers are reeling.

They dropped their second consecutive game Thursday night, losing 10-3 in Game 4 to fall into a tie with the Astros at two games apiece. Houston started fasted and didn’t flinch after the Rangers erased an early 3-0 deficit.

The Rangers’ pitching did them in again, this time as starter Andrew Heaney couldn’t finish the first inning and as Dane Dunning allowed three of the four runs in the Astros’ fourth. The big blow was a three-run homer by Jose Abreu against left-hander Cody Bradford with two outs, but the two walks issued by Dunning to start the inning, after the Rangers had just tied the game, put the wheels in motion.

“In a situation where we needed a shutdown inning, I didn’t do it,” Dunning said. “I didn’t do my job.”

The good news for the Rangers is that left-hander Jordan Montgomery will start this afternoon in Game 5. The bad news is that he will be opposed by right-hander Justin Verlander while having to shut down an Astros offense that can’t stop scoring runs at Globe Life Field.

Dating to July, the Astros have won seven straight games here while outscoring the Rangers 74-32. The series is guaranteed to return to Minute Maid Park on Sunday for Game 6, and that might be a good thing.

“They have played well in this ballpark, and we have to stop that,” Bochy said.

Adolis Garcia and Corey Seager hit solo homers for the Rangers. Seager’s shot to start the third pulled the Rangers into a 3-3 tie that didn’t last an inning as Dunning unraveled.

He walked No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado to start the fourth, his biggest sin in the inning, and then walked Jose Altuve before a Maurico Dubon single loaded the bases with no outs.

Dunning struck out Alex Bregman, but Bochy went to Bradford for a left-on-left matchup against Yordan Alvarez. The Rangers dodged a bullet as Alvarez’s just missed a home run, settling for a sacrifice fly, but Bradford missed his spot on his sixth pitch to Abreu.

Abreu didn’t miss it.

Dunning knew afterward how costly the leadoff walk to Maldonado, who is batting .182 this postseason, became.

“In a situation like that, I’ve got to be in the zone more,” Dunning said. “It’s frustrating. He’s ninth in the lineup for a reason, and I walked him. You bring up the top of the order with Altuve with a runner on, I’m trying to get a double play and just missed with a couple changeups and an uncompetitive 3-1 sinker.”

The Astros’ relievers stifled the Rangers once again after the early offense, as they did in Game 1 and Game 2. The Rangers had only three hits the rest of the way, the first two coming in the fifth as Leody Taveras and Marcus Semien opened with singles.

Seager was next, and he hit a 108.6-mph line drive to first that Abreu snagged and then tagged the batting glove sticking out of Semien’s back pocket for a rally-killing double play.

“It’s a good play by Abreu,” Semien said. “I didn’t feel a tag. I’ve been putting my gloves in my back pocket my entire career, and that’s the first time that’s happened.”

But bad luck didn’t doom the Rangers.

The pitching did, and the best-of-7 ALCS is now a best-of-3.

“I always like my chances with this club,” Bochy said. “They’ve battled all year. We’re playing a good team. Nobody thought this was going to be easy. We’ve been in this kind of situation where we’ve had to bounce back, and that’s what we need to do.”

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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