The Associated Press
HOUSTON–Jose Altuve upped the pressure on Alex Bregman as he walked to home plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“Altuve told me . . . that he’s not bringing his bat or batting gloves to the on-deck circle, so I better get the job done,” Bregman recalled.
“So I had to find a way.”
Bregman hit a game-ending two-run double as the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 to match a franchise record with their 12th-straight win.
Houston trailed 4-0 after three innings but cut the lead to one entering the ninth.
Sergio Romo (1-2) walked Marwin Gonzalez to start the ninth, then allowed a single to Max Stassi.
Tony Kemp’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners up before Houston loaded the bases when George Springer reached on interference by catcher Wilson Ramos.
Bregman then drove a ball that bounced off the wall in left-centre. He lifted both arms as he trotted into second base and teammates mobbed him in the infield.
It was Houston’s second game-ending hit of the season, and the other also came off Bregman’s bat April 7 against San Diego.
Bregman also walked off Houston with a single in Game 5 of the World Series last season.
“You do it as often as Alex has done it, we know it’s going to be a good at-bat,” said manager A.J. Hinch.
“Whether it ends in our favour or not is baseball, but he’s a guy we want up there.”
Romo declined to speak to reporters after the game but Rays’ manager Kevin Cash discussed his work.
“He’s the guy who’s been out there and got the experience,” Cash noted.
“He’s done it here as of late. It lined up right; it just didn’t work,” he reasoned.
Collin McHugh (2-0) struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the win on a night Gerrit Cole walked a career-high five to help the Rays build the early lead.
Houston also won 12-straight in 2004 and 1999.
The Astros will go for No. 13 tonight with ace Justin Verlander on the mound.
“The only thing that matters to these guys is winning,” Bregman said.
Romo was the seventh pitcher the Rays used as they employed a reliever as a starter for the 16th time in 30 games.
Elsewhere in the AL, Cleveland beat Chicago 6-2 and Texas doubled Kansas City 6-3.
Over in the NL, Philadelphia topped St. Louis 6-5 (10 innings), Pittsburgh nipped Milwaukee 1-0, New York dumped Colorado 12-2, and Miami edged San Francisco 5-4.
L.A. at Chicago was postponed.