HOUSTON — Yordan Alvarez and the Houston Astros talked about the need to improve their record at home as the regular season winds down.
Then they went out and did just that.
Alvarez homered and Kyle Tucker added two RBIs to give him an American League-leading 101 as the Astros used a big fifth inning to rally past the San Diego Padres 7-5 on Saturday night.
The Astros bounced back after losing the series opener 11-2 to get their fourth win in five games and increase their lead in the AL West to 1 1/2 games over Seattle.
It was just the third win in their last 13 home games for the Astros, who are 36-35 at Minute Maid Park this season.
“It’s no secret that this team has been battling all year in terms of health,” said Alvarez, who missed six weeks with an oblique injury. “And it’s also not a secret of the quality team that we know that we are. So it’s one of those things … where if we just continued working hard … we’d (be) back in first place.”
The Padres led by two after four innings before the Astros scored five runs in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead. Alvarez, who hit a solo homer in the third, had an RBI double in the fifth before Tucker’s two-run double put Houston on top.
“We got a lot of hits and we kept the line moving,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t hardly see a bunch of consecutive hits like that anymore. It just shows what happens when you make contact and you get momentum going.”
It’s the second consecutive 100-RBI season for Tucker, who had 107 last season. He moved past injured Texas star Adolis Garcia (100) for the AL lead in RBIs.
Closer Ryan Pressly walked Ha-Seong Kim to start the ninth before giving up a single to Juan Soto with one out. But he struck out Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts to end the threat and get his 30th save.
Jurickson Profar had three hits, highlighted by a two-run homer and Luis Campusano added two hits and an RBI for the the Padres, who went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
The Astros went to their bullpen early after starter Cristian Javier allowed four hits and four runs in just four innings. Phil Maton (4-3) pitched a perfect fifth for the win.
San Diego’s Seth Lugo (6-7) gave up seven hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
There were two outs in the third when Alvarez connected off Lugo on his soaring shot to the second deck in right-center to put the Astros on top 1-0.
Soto walked to open the fourth before scoring on a two-out single by Campusano that tied it at 1-1.
Profar, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A El Paso Friday, followed with his home run to right field to give San Diego a 3-1 lead.
Javier walked Matthew Batten and he stole second base. Trent Grisham smacked a liner to right field for a double to score him and make it 4-1.
The Astros added a run in the fourth when Abreu walked and later scored on a groundout by Mauricio Dubón that cut the lead to 4-2.
There were two on and no outs in the fifth when Alvarez hit a ground-rule double that bounced off the track in center field and into the seats to score 1 and get the Astros within 4-3.
Alex Bregman grounded out before Tucker drove in two more with a ground-rule double to the corner of right field to put Houston on top 5-4 and chase Lugo.
Nick Martinez took over and was greeted by an RBI single by Abreu. Michael Brantley and Dubón hit consecutive singles to load the bases before Martín Maldonado’s single extended the lead to 7-4.
The Padres finally got out of the inning when Jose Altuve grounded into a double play.
San Diego hit three straight singles with one out in the sixth to add a run and cut the lead to 7-5. Kendall Graveman then walked Grisham to load the bases and end his night. Héctor Neris came in and retired Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. on pop ups to preserve the lead.
Baker said the performance of Neris was a key to the game.
“It’s the job of the bullpen to come in and support the team,” Neris said. “It’s my job to keep the game like that and … help us win.”
Houston RHP J.P. France (10-5, 3.72 ERA) opposes RHP Matt Waldron (0-2, 5.12) in series finale Sunday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb