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HOUSTON — The Astros squandered a chance to gain ground atop the American League West standings Monday night when Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins clubbed a three-run homer in the ninth inning off closer Ryan Pressly to send Houston to a crushing 8-7 loss at Minute Maid Park.
Despite losing for the fifth time in their past seven games, the Astros remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Rangers, who lost to the Red Sox.
Houston led, 7-5, going to the ninth inning before Pressly allowed a pair of one-out singles by Ryan O’Hearn and Austin Hays ahead of Mullins’ three-run homer to right field. Houston fell to 74-5 this year when leading after eight innings.
Games remaining (11): vs. BAL (2), vs. KC (3), at SEA (3), at AZ (3)
Standings update: The Astros (84-67) lead the AL West by 1 1/2 games over the Rangers (82-68), who lost to the Red Sox on Monday, and two games over the Mariners (81-67), who were still playing at the conclusion of Houston’s game.
Magic number to clinch AL West: 9
José Abreu clubbed a 425-foot home run to center field off Orioles reliever Danny Coulombe in the seventh inning to put the Astros ahead, 6-5, and catcher Martín Maldonado blasted a solo homer in the eighth to push the lead to 7-5.
Justin Verlander allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings for Houston. He was in line for career win No. 256 after the Astros rallied for four runs in the sixth to take a 5-3 lead, capped by a two-run tiebreaking double by Jose Altuve. But the Orioles tagged Rafael Montero for two runs in the seventh to tie the game.
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