HOUSTON — Alex Bregman had two hits and an RBI in his first action in more than two months, and the Albuquerque native scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a groundout by Jake Meyers to lift the Houston Astros to a 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Kyle Tucker singled with no outs in the 10th to send automatic runner Bregman to third. Meyers then hit a comebacker that struck pitcher Joel Payamps (0-3) and pulled him toward first base. Payamps tossed the ball to first for the meaningless out as Bregman slid home.
Manager Dusty Baker is glad to see his team getting back to full strength with Bregman and Tucker, who returned Tuesday night after spending 10 days on the COVID-19 injured list.
“We’re starting to get whole again,” Baker said. “It was great to have both my guys back.”
Bregman had been sidelined since June 16 with a strained left quadriceps.
In early July, he had suggested to Houston media that a rehab assignement could bring him to hometown Albuquerque while playing for the Astros’ Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters affiliate. But that didn’t happen.
Bregman singled in the fourth and had an RBI double in the sixth that made it 3-1.
The Astros had runners at first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Scott Barlow retired Bregman on a groundout.
Bregman is hitting .278 for the season with a .791 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage). His career batting average is .282 and career OPS is 891 through Thursday’s game.
Houston won two of three in this series after dropping three of four to the Royals last week in Kansas City.
“We’ve been on the verge of rolling for a while,” Baker said. “Hopefully this is the beginning of the roll. It starts with one.”
Kendall Graveman (5-0) struck out one in a scoreless 10th.
Whit Merrifield hit a grand slam with two outs in the seventh to put the Royals up 5-3. Meyers singled in the bottom of the inning and scored on a two-out single by Aledmys Díaz. Pinch-hitter Michael Brantley’s RBI single with two outs in the eighth inning tied it at 5.
“When you have an opportunity to put it away in the last third of the game, we’ve been pretty good about figuring out how to do that,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We needed some guys to throw in some spots that maybe they haven’t thrown in before. Unfortunately, just got us into a (bad) spot.”
Salvador Perez extended his career high with his 34th homer in the fourth inning for the Royals.
Martín Maldonado and Yordan Alvarez hit solo homers for the Astros.
“We felt like it was a must-win game for us today,” Maldonado said.
The Journal contributed to this report.