Carlos Correa (left) and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros celebrate the team’s 7-2 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game Two of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (AFP)

Houston’s Jose Altuve smashed a home run and scored twice to spark the Astros over the Atlanta Braves 7-2 on Wednesday and level the World Series at one victory each.

Martin Maldonado added a two-run single for the Astros, who deadlocked Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship final ahead of game three Friday in Atlanta.

“It was good to come back and have the game we had as a team,” Altuve said. “We’re going to go to Atlanta now and take as many as we can there.”

The Braves, in their first World Series since 1999, seek their first championship since 1995. They are 5-0 at home this year in the playoffs.

The Astros, in their third World Series in five seasons, won the 2017 crown but lost the 2019 title to Washington in seven games.

Nice weather allowed the retractable Houston stadium roof to be open for only the eighth time this year.

Altuve snapped a two-game hitless streak, but the 31-year-old Venezuelan slugger said he wasn’t worried about individual production, only team triumphs.

“Playoff numbers don’t matter. You have to stay positive and wait until your time has come,” Altuve said.

“We’re not thinking about average or homers. We’re thinking about winning and that’s how it is for the entire team.”

Houston’s Jose Urquidy, a 26-year-old Mexican right-hander, struck out seven Atlanta batters over five innings for the victory.

“I was very focused, throwing strikes and attacking the hitter all the time, attacking the strike zone,” Urquidy said. “The offense was very good. We’re in it. We’re going to keep fighting.”

Urquidy had pitched only once in 24 days before the start but showed no signs of rust.

“I was trying to compete 100%,” he said. “I was paying attention to every single at bat. I was very tight for every pitch. I loved it.”

The Astros opened the scoring in the first inning when Altuve doubled, took third on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly and scored on Alex Bregman’s sacrifice fly.

Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud smashed a solo homer in the second inning to lift the Braves level.

But Houston broke open the game with four runs in the second off Braves southpaw starter Max Fried. Kyle Tucker singled, took third on Yuli Gurriel’s single and scored on rookie Jose Siri’s single.

Maldonado followed with a single to drive in both runners and later scored on a Brantley single for a 5-1 Astros lead.

“I got a pitch out over the plate and put the stick on it,” Brantley said. “We did a great job of staying in the zone (with swings).”

Braves manager Brian Snitker said losing pitcher Fried wasn’t so bad in the second despite surrendering four consecutive singles and five in all.

“It was kind of a weird inning. It’s not like he got pounded around,” Snitker said. “It very easily could have been a very different outcome for him, especially in that second inning.”

‘Like a feeding frenzy’

Astros manager Dusty Baker, seeking his first World Series crown as a manager at age 72, was happy with the spurt but wanted more.

“It happened fast,” Baker said. “It gets to be like a feeding frenzy and everybody wants to get in on it. I was hoping we could score some more.”

The Braves answered in the fifth inning when Freddie Freeman singled in d’Arnaud from third.

Houston responded in the sixth when Yordan Alvarez walked and Carlos Correa singled to chase Fried.

Alvarez took third when Tucker hit into a fielder’s choice and he scored on a fielding error by Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies, making it 6-2.

Altuve blasted his 22nd career playoff homer off the first pitch from Atlanta reliever Drew Smyly in the seventh inning, his fourth first-pitch homer of these playoffs.

“I was thinking about just getting a good pitch to hit, just something I could drive,” Altuve said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (