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Margot's homer, catch carry Rays to 2-0 ALCS lead


EditorsNote: adds quotes plus new final graf

Manuel Margot slammed a three-run homer and made a spectacular catch to lead the Rays to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday in San Diego, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.

Mike Zunino added a solo blast for the Rays, who are two victories away from reaching the World Series for the second time in the franchise's 23-season history.

Game 3 in the best-of-seven ALCS is scheduled for Tuesday.

Carlos Correa homered for the Astros, who have scored three runs in the series while leaving 21 runners stranded.

Houston right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (0-1) struck out 11 in seven innings. He gave up four runs (one earned) on four hits and a hit batter without issuing a walk.

Rays right-hander Charlie Morton (1-0) repeatedly pitched out of trouble while hurling five shutout innings. He allowed five hits, one walk and one hit batter while striking out five.

Tampa Bay right-hander Pete Fairbanks served up Correa's homer during his two innings. Left-hander Aaron Loup retired two batters and allowed a hit in the eighth, right-hander Ryan Thompson recorded the last out of the eighth and righty Nick Anderson worked out of a jam in the ninth to notch his first career postseason save.

A two-out throwing error by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve brought Margot up with two on in the bottom of the first against McCullers. On the second pitch, Margot sent a knuckle curve 406 feet over the fence in center to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.

"Manny has really turned it on with the home run," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We didn't see many in the regular season (one homer by Margot), but I think he has three really huge home runs for us in the postseason."

In the top of the second, Houston had runners on second and third after Martin Maldonado laced a two-out, ground-rule double to left.

George Springer followed with a fly down the right field line that kept drifting into foul territory toward the wall. Margot made the grab as he hit the wall and then he went over it and fell face first to the concrete below, quickly getting up to hold up his glove, displaying that he made the catch.

Margot was familiar with Petco Park from his time with the San Diego Padres, although he was used to a different vantage point from center field.

"In all the time I played here, I never played right field," he said. "I knew it was going to be a dangerous play, but I had to make the play and I had to make the catch."

The Astros left seven runners on base over the first four innings. They finally got on the board with one out in the sixth inning when Correa pounced on a 1-0 fastball from Fairbanks and sent it 438 feet over the fence in center.

Tampa Bay reinstated the margin to three in the seventh when Zunino feasted on a 1-1 offering from McCullers and smashed it 454 feet to center.

Houston's Yuli Gurriel reached on an infield single to start the ninth and Josh Reddick and pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz followed with singles to load the bases.

Springer then swung at the first pitch and hit into a double play as Gurriel scored from third. Altuve and Michael Brantley each walked on four pitches to reload the bases before Alex Bregman flied to center to end it.

Astros manager Dusty Baker said his club had no shortage of chances.

"We played an outstanding game," Baker said. "We had (10) hits and I don't know how many we left on base (11), but we had opportunities just like that night. We had bases loaded (in the ninth) and George hits a bullet up the middle and they were playing accordingly and it turned into a double play. We got beat by misfortune today."

Aside from the two homers, Tampa Bay's only other two hits were singles by Randy Arozarena.

--Field Level Media

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