Tucker’s 2 HRs, 4 RBIs fall short, Astros lose Series opener

HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Tucker got the fans jumping with a leadoff homer in the second inning. Then he hit a three-run drive in the third.

Ahead 5-0, the Houston Astros finally were going to win a World Series opener.

Instead, the first multi-homer Series game for the Astros wasn’t quite enough.

“I’d rather not done that and won the game, but that’s not how it works out,” Tucker said in a quiet Houston clubhouse.

J.T. Realmuto tied the score with a two-run double off ace Justin Verlander in the fifth, then hit a go-ahead home run in the 10th that lifted the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-5 victory Friday night.

Tucker was held without an RBI in last year’s six-game Series loss to Atlanta.

He went deep in Game 2 of this year’s AL Division Series against Seattle and put the Astros ahead against Philadelphia when he drove a changeup from Phillies starter Aaron Nola into the right-field seats.

“Kyle, he’s been fantastic for us all year,” Verlander said. “Should probably win a Silver Slugger. One of the best hitters in baseball. So I don’t think anybody’s surprised in our locker room.”

Then in the third, Tucker capped a seven-pitch at-bat by sending a sinker from Nola soaring into Houston’s bullpen. He flipped his bat toward the Astros’ dugout and shouted in glee while rounding the bases with the first multi-homer game in a Series opener since Cleveland’s Roberto Pérez in 2016.

“It’s the playoffs — putting up runs is pretty hard, especially against good pitchers,” Tucker said. “So any time you get on base or hit a homer or drive in a run is huge.”

Tucker also singled in the eighth, but in the 10th he came up short. Realmuto hit an opposite-field drive against Luis Garcia leading off, and the ball went just over the glove of a leaping Tucker at the right-field wall.

“I knew it would be kind of hard,” Tucker said. “I wish I could jump a little higher.”

In Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees at home, Tucker caught an eighth-inning drive by star slugger Aaron Judge near the top of the wall to preserve Houston’s one-run lead.

“I kind of had flashbacks of the play that Tucker made on Judge’s ball that last series,” Realmuto said. “Once I saw him running back to the wall, I was thinking in my head, oh, please just don’t catch it, just don’t catch it. I knew it was going to be close. I thought originally I had enough, but once I saw him running back to the wall, I wasn’t so sure.”

In the bottom half, Tucker came to the plate with one out following Alex Bregman’s double off David Robertson and struck out.

Aledmys Diaz hit a game-ending grounder with runners at second and third, and the Astros lost Game 1 of the Series just as they did in 2005, 2017, 2019 and last year.

“I think this team, we have an ability when our back’s against the wall to play our best baseball,” Verlander said. “I expect nothing different moving forward from everybody in this locker room, including myself. And hopefully I get another opportunity to pitch and can do better.”

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