‘The hard way to lose’ – Astros lose to Dodgers after balk call


After trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers got some help from the Houston Astros’ bullpen — and the umpire.

James Outman scored the go-ahead run on Ryne Stanek’s ball as the Dodgers beat the Astros, 8-7, for their fourth straight win on Saturday.

Stanek, his long blonde hair flying in the air, was furious after striking out Michael Busch to end the inning. He turned to shout and pointed to second base umpire Junior Valentine, who tossed Stanek. Pitching coach Josh Miller came out to catch Stanek, and plate umpire Manny Gonzalez had to appear before the barking Stanek.

Houston’s manager Dusty Baker walked out of the dugout to argue and was also ejected.

“I needed some kind of explanation because Stanek was going ballistic,” said Baker, who thought the reliever had simply removed the rubber.

Baker said, “Boy, that’s a hard way to lose someone.”

The Dodgers tied it at 7 in the eighth. Reliever Brian Abreu (2-2) walked Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and JD Martinez to load the bases. Kyle Tucker made a sliding catch to Sun on Jason Hayward’s sacrifice fly in right field, on which Freeman scored. Smith scored on Outman’s ground-rule double after the ball clipped the right field wall.

Valiant called on Stanek, whose right leg appeared to be fluttering after looking at the pitch.

Stanek said, “He said I shook my leg, which was quite obvious as I came off the mound.” “Also, I completely disagree. A kid intentionally trying to cheat a runner. At what point was I trying to cheat a runner? I wasn’t even ready yet. I Was literally just stepping backwards.”

Stanek said he saw the replay. He had never been called for balks before.

“This move is beyond modest,” he said.

Phil Bickford (2-2) earned the win in relief, and Evan Phillips pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

Alex Bregman hit a grand slam in the fifth for the Astros.

Dodgers rookie Bobby Miller was hit hard in the inning when he allowed five runs and five hits before striking out without retiring anyone.

For the second straight game, José Altuve and Bregman were booed heavily by a crowd of 49,281, who chanted “Cheater! Cheater!” Only two remain in the Astros from their 2017 championship team. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal that season after they defeated the Dodgers in a seven-game World Series.

The defending World Series champion batted in the fifth. Corey Jules singled in the lead off, Jake Meyers walked and Altuve struck out on Miller’s bunt as the first single to load the bases.

This set up Bregman, whose sixth career grand slam traveled 369 feet into left field and gave Houston a 5–3 lead.

Houston’s other runs came on RBI singles by Altuve in the third and Yanner Díaz in the fifth, and José Abreu’s sacrifice fly scored Altuve in the sixth.

Ronel Blanco allowed three runs and two hits over six innings in his fourth start after nine relief appearances this season. The right-handed batsman scored six runs and scored two runs.

The Dodgers fell behind 7–5 in the seventh after David Peralta’s pinch-hit two-run homer on his first pitch off of Phil Maton hit Hayward on his first pitch of the inning.

The Dodgers struck out Blanco on the first three runs. He then retired the next 16 of his last 17 batters.

Miller pitched to his second consecutive bad start, allowing six runs and 10 hits over four innings. The right-handed batsman scored three runs and scored three runs.

Jules took a spectacular layup in the first to snatch Mookie Betts’ leadoff homer. The left fielder snatched the ball in front of the Dodgers’ bullpen gate and pumped his right fist.

After Freeman struck out, Smith drove deep into the lower left field seats off Blanco for his 11th homer.

Martínez walked to set up Hayward, who blasted a 380-foot line-drive homer to right field for a 3–0 lead.

Astros right-hander Hunter Brown (6-4, 3.78 ERA) will face right-hander Tony Gonsolin (4-2, 2.92) on Sunday in the series finale.

Although injured Dodgers third baseman Max Muncie (hamstring) will not be in the lineup Sunday, he will take part in a live at-bat pregame and is expected to be activated from the injured list Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.