Joey Wendle and Hunter Renfroe drove in two runs apiece during a five-run sixth, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros 5-2 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series Tuesday night at Petco Park in San Diego.
Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead in the series and can clinch its first World Series berth since 2008 as early as Wednesday night.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, who had two throwing errors in Game 2 — including one in the first inning that opened the door for Manuel Margot’s winning three-run home run — continued to have problems in Game 3.
After Randy Arozarena singled to left to start the sixth, Brandon Lowe grounded what appeared to be a double-play ball to Altuve. But he threw wildly into left field, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Yandy Diaz singled to center, loading the bases, and Wendle followed with a two-run single to left.
Enoli Paredes hit both Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames with pitches, scoring another run. Renfroe kept the parade going with a two-run double down the right field line. Arozarena was intentionally walked by Brooks Raley with two outs, loading the bases yet again, before Lowe struck out to end the inning.
The Astros got one run back in the bottom of the sixth when Michael Brantley homered to left-center off Ryan Yarbrough.
Yarbrough went five innings, striking out five while allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Pete Fairbanks retired the three batters he faced in the sixth, and John Curtiss took care of Houston in the seventh.
Altuve (off Curtiss)and Brantley (off Ryan Thompson)singled to open the eighth. After an Alex Bregman strikeout, Carlos Correa reached on an infield single to load the bases with one out. But Renfroe raced in to make a sliding catch on a Kyle Tucker fly ball to short right field, and Yuli Gurriel grounded out to end the inning.
Diego Castillo also got into trouble in the ninth, walking Abraham Toro and George Springer to bring Altuve to the plate with one out. But Castillo struck out Altuve on a check swing and got Brantley to fly out to centerfielder Margot to end the game.
Kiermaier made two outstanding plays in the field, a leaping catch at the wall to rob Bregman of an extra-base hit in the first and a diving catch of a Correa line drive with two runners on base in the third. He left with a left hand contusion after being hit by a pitch. in the sixth.