Lyles pitches five shutout, Royals down Astros 3-2, Houston maintains hold on final AL wild-card

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Royals down Astros 3-2
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jordan Lyles throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Jordan Lyles gave up just two hits in five innings, Bobby Witt Jr. drove in his 93rd run of the season and the Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros 3-2 on Saturday night.

Houston has lost four of its last five games and fell to 39-41 at home this year. Still, the Astros maintained their half-game lead for the final AL wild-card spot over Seattle with seven games remaining. The Mariners lost 2-0 to Texas earlier.

The Royals have won nine of their last 10 games for the first time since July 20-30, 2017. The win also clinched a fourth straight series win for the first time since 2019.

Lyles (5-17) held the Astros to just one hit through the first four innings, while striking out three and walking two. This was his best start since July 17 when he held Detroit to no runs on three hits in a no decision.

Taylor Clarke got the last five outs for his third save of the season.

The Royals got to the Astros early again. Maikel Garcia led off the game against J.P. France (11-6) with an infield single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Yanier Diaz. Garcia scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by M.J. Melendez to make it 1-0.

Kansas City leads the American League in sacrifice flies this season with 56 — second in the majors behind only the Dodgers (66).

In the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Witt reached on a fielder’s choice and drove in Nick Pratto. A wild pitch by France later in the inning allowed Kyle Isbel to score, making it 3-0.

France gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five.

Astros reliever Bryan Abreu struck out the side in the eighth inning to extend his scoreless innings streak to a major league-best 24 innings. Abreu has struck out 28 batters in this span.

Trailing 3-0, Chas McCormick led off the seventh inning blasting a ball 418 feet to the train tracks in left field to cut into the lead. It was the second straight game that McCormick homered.

The Astros inched closer in the eighth as back-to-back doubles by Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker made it 3-2. Alvarez finished 1 for 4 with the double, which extended his streak of games reaching base safely in to 29.

Royals down Astros 3-2

3 MILLION FANS

With 41,692 fans in attendance on Saturday night, the Astros surpassed 3 million fans for the fifth time in franchise history and for the first time since 2007.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: C Salvador Perez (concussion) is likely to return to the lineup on Sunday, according to Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro. … RHP Brad Keller has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He will decide whether to undergo surgery in the coming days, according to Quatraro.

Astros: OF Michael Brantley was out of the lineup for a fifth straight game Saturday with right shoulder soreness.

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Hunter Brown (11-12, 4.87 ERA) will start Houston’s final home game of the regular season on Sunday. The Royals have not announced a starter.

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