ATLANTA (AP) Yordan Alvarez hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Houston Astros rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Friday night in a matchup of the last two World Series champions.
With the score 4-4, Alvarez pulled a cutter to right-center for his fifth home run this season. Braves closer A.J. Minter (0-1) gave up his first home run this season.
“When the count got to 3-2, I knew he had to throw a pitch in the zone,” Alvarez said. “I just tried to relax myself and wait for it.”
Hector Neris (1-1) earned the win with a perfect eighth inning for the 2022 champions. Ryan Pressley pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth for his first save, striking out Ronald Acuña Jr. with a man on and retiring Matt Olson on a game-ending groundout.
Houston erased a 4-1 deficit in the seventh against Jesse Chavez, who had not allowed a run in 10 appearances this season. Yanier Diaz hit an RBI double and scored on Jake Meyers' single, and Mauricio Dubón followed with a run-scoring double.
Braves catcher Sean Murphy threw out Corey Julks trying to steal third for the final out of the eighth inning. Kevin Pillar made a diving backhand catch in left to rob Alex Bregman with with a runner on first base in the ninth.
Bregman and Jake Meyers both went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Astros.
Atlanta's Bryce Elder outpitched Hunter Brown and lowered his ERA to 1.14, holding Houston to an unearned run over six innings while striking out six.
Brown had not given up an earned run in 14 innings entering Friday, but gave up four in the first as he labored through a 29-pitch inning.
“I give him credit for keeping them at four,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “It was a great job by the bullpen and great job by the offense.”
Ozzie Albies had a two-out, two-run double, and Austin Riley and Vaughn Grissom also drove in runs. Acuña doubled twice, including one leading off the first.
Astros: Michael Brantley will begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Sugar Land on Sunday as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
Braves: None of the four injured regulars for the Braves have a specific return date. Reliever Collin McHugh (shoulder) threw three scoreless innings in a rehab appearance at Single A Rome. ... Catcher Travis d’Arnaud (concussion) took batting practice for the first time since going on the IL on April 9. ... Center fielder Michael Harris II (back) did some light running and hit off a tee. ... Closer Raisel Iglesias (shoulder) threw a side session.
DUBON KEEPS ROLLING
Dubon extended MLB's longest active hitting streak to 15 with a single in the fifth and finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He has replaced Jose Altuve at second base after Altuve broke his thumb at the World Baseball Classic and is hitting .343 on the season.
“I'm very happy for him and everything he is doing,” Alvarez said. “He deserves this.”
NEVER TOO EARLY
In addition to facing the first-place Braves, Houston will also take on first-place Tampa Bay as part of its six-game road trip. Baker said despite the calendar still reading April, he attaches some importance to these games.
“It’s never too early,” he said. “We want to win both series. These two teams are playing the best right now.”
The Astros were outstanding against winning teams last season, compiling a 35-20 in the regular season against eventual playoff teams. They then stormed through the postseason with an 11-2 record en route to the World Series title.
Acuna had his 12th first-inning hit of the season in his 20th game. ... Brown matched a career high with seven strikeouts. ... The Braves had their fifth sellout in eight home games.
Braves RHP Kyle Wright (0-0, 6.23 ERA) is scheduled to make his third start of the season and faced LHP Framber Valdez (1-2, 1.80) in the middle game of the series on Saturday night.
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