HOUSTON (AP)Yordan Alvarez hit a game-ending, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Robbie Ray, wrecking Seattle’s strategy of using a Cy Young Award winner in a rare relief role and vaulting the Houston Astros over the Mariners 8-7 Tuesday in their playoff opener.
Trailing all game after a poor start by Justin Verlander, the AL West champion Astros overtook rookie star Julio Rodriguez and the wild-card Mariners at the end to begin their best-of-five Division Series.
Houston was down 7-5 when rookie pinch-hitter David Hensley reached with one out in the ninth as Seattle closer Paul Sewald grazed his jersey with a pitch. Sewald struck out Jose Altuve before Jeremy Pena laced a single to center field to chase Sewald.
Ray, who had made only six relief appearances in his career, entered for a lefty versus lefty matchup with Alvarez, who sent the second pitch he faced deep into the seats in right field to set off a wild celebration.
The Mariners jumped on Verlander for six runs in just four innings to build a 6-2 lead early. Yuli Gurriel hit a solo homer in the Houston fourth before Eugenio Suarez’s solo shot in the seventh extended Seattle’s lead to 7-3.
A two-run homer by Alex Bregman off Andres Munoz cut the lead to 7-5 in the eighth inning to set up the dramatic finish.
DODGERS 5, PADRES 3
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Trea Turner homered and doubled as Los Angeles started fast and held off San Diego Padres in their NL Division Series opener.
Behind 17-game winner Julio Urias, the Dodgers raced to an early 5-0 lead and appeared to be on their way to another blowout of the Padres.
Los Angeles dominated in the regular season, owning a 14-5 advantage and outscoring San Diego 109-47. The 111-win Dodgers claimed the NL West and the Padres finished second, 22 games back.
With Sandy Koufax watching from the owners’ box, Urias retired the first eight batters he faced until Austin Nola doubled with two outs in the third.
Chris Martin, who had two saves this season, pitched the ninth for the save. Struggling closer Craig Kimbrel was left off the Dodgers’ roster for this best-of-five matchup.
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium before the series shifts south to San Diego.
YANKEES 4, GUARDIANS 1
NEW YORK (AP) – Gerrit Cole cruised for most of the night, Harrison Bader and Anthony Rizzo homered and New York beat Cleveland in the teams’ AL Division Series opener.
The Yankees have won six straight postseason games against Cleveland, dating to a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the 2017 Division Series.
Cole got the win in his first postseason game for the Yankees in the Bronx. He left after giving up one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts. Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes finished with two-hit relief to begin the best-of-five matchup.
Coming off a two-game sweep of Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, Cleveland struck out nine times, after having the fewest in the major leagues during the regular season.
Jose Trevino hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth after Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a single into the right-field corner and wild-card series star Oscar Gonzalez allowed the ball to bounce throw his legs for a two-base error.
Rizzo chased Cal Quantrill with a drive into the right-field second desk in the sixth after Aaron Judge walked.
Quantrill lost for the first time since July 5. He gave up four runs – three earned – four hits and three walks in five-plus innings.
PHILLIES 7, BRAVES 6
ATLANTA (AP) – Nick Castellanos drove in three runs and made a potentially game-saving catch in the ninth inning, lifting Philadelphia over reigning World Series champion Atlanta in the opener of their NL Division Series.
Game 2 is Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta before the series shifts to Philly.
The Phillies have won three straight games to begin these playoffs, following up their wild-card sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a victory over the team that finished 14 games ahead of them in the NL East.
Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Zach Eflin to bring the Braves within a run. Castellanos capped off a brilliant day with his bat and his glove, making a sliding catch in right field for help snuff out the comeback.
Alec Bohm added two RBIs for the Phillies, who built a 7-1 lead by the top of the fifth. Travis d’Arnaud homered and drove in the other three Atlanta runs.
Max Fried failed to get through the fourth inning and was roughed up for eight hits and six runs – two of them unearned. Seranthony Dominguez struck out three in two innings of relief for the win.
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