DETROIT (AP)Cristian Javier allowed two hits in six shutout innings, and the Houston Astros beat Detroit 2-1 on Wednesday for a seven-game season sweep of the Tigers.
Javier (9-9) struck out eight and walked none, winning for the third time in four decisions. He retired 13 in a row before Riley Greene’s two-out single in the sixth.
”They didn’t have a lot of righties in their lineup, so I knew I was mostly going to be using my slider against right-handed hitters,” Javier said. ”I think our whole rotation is focused on attacking the strike zone and doing the best we can. Right now, we’re all doing that well.”
Ryan Pressly, Houston’s fourth pitcher, threw a one-hit ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances, finishing a four-hitter.
Houston swept the Tigers over a season for the first time since moving to the AL in 2013 after winning three games against Detroit both in 1998 and 1999 while in the NL.
”You have to win those kind of games,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. ”You know, you aren’t going to beat up everybody every day and score a bunch of runs. You have to win some games 3-2 and 2-1 – just find a way to win.”
The AL-best Astros (93-50), closing in on their sixth straight postseason appearance, are 25-8 against the AL Central this season.
Last-place Detroit (54-89), already assured of a losing record, is on the verge of its first 90-loss season since going 47-114 in 2019. The Tigers never led during this week’s series.
Joey Wentz (1-2) gave up two runs and four hits in four-plus innings. The Tigers have lost four straight and 11 of 15.
”They are a really good team – they have a plan and they rarely get away from it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. ”He was seeing them for the first time and he really battled through the order twice. He was effective.”
Kyle Tucker homered leading off the fourth, and Alex Bregman hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Javier Baez homered in the seventh against Bryan Abreu, tying Jeimer Candelario for the team lead with his 13th home run. Detroit already has been shut out a team-record 21 times.
Greene nearly gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the eighth, but his 420-foot drive to centerfield was caught against the wall by Chas McCormick.
”This has to be the biggest ballpark left in the game, and the pitchers have to take advantage of that,” Baker said. ”I remember Barry Bonds used to tell Jason Schmidt to trust the park in San Francisco, and that’s true here as well.”
Greene, who made a diving catch in deep right-centerfield on Tuesday, knows the difficulty of hitting a homer to centerfield better than anyone.
”I just had to hit it a little harder,” he said.
Yordan Alvarez was held out of the lineup by Houston. Baker said it was due to a sore hand, but Alvarez said after the game he was fine.
”I thought it was just a regular day off,” Alvarez said. ”I think there was a miscommunication somewhere, but I feel great. I’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who has been sidelined since Aug. 28 because of a calf injury, is to be activated to start Friday against Oakland.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.20) starts Thursday’s opener of a four-game series against the visiting A’s, who start RHP James Kaprielian (3-9, 4.79).
Tigers: RHP Matt Manning (2-2, 3.73) takes the mound for Friday’s series opener against RHP Lucas Giolito (10-9, 5.18) of the visiting Chicago White Sox.
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