“Obviously, he’s having an excellent season,” Valdez said through a translator. “He’s a great hitter, a power hitter, contact hitter. He’s a guy that saves us a ton and contributes to the team a ton and we know what he can do.”
Álvarez and Kyle Tucker each hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Kyle Wright, and Houston beat Atlanta 6-3 for its third straight victory on Saturday night.
Álvarez's sixth long ball of the season came one night after he hit a go-ahead, two-run shot in the ninth inning for the decisive runs in a 6-4 win. Álvarez, who finished third in the AL MVP voting last year for the World Series champion Astros, connected against Wright on a 414-foot homer that sailed into the Chop House restaurant in right field to make it 2-1.
After Braves rookie shortstop Vaughn Grissom committed his second error of the game, Tucker went deep to center, his ball going 410 feet for a 4-1 lead. It was his fifth homer.
“I was just trying to get something I could maybe do something with,” Tucker said. “I didn't feel too comfortable really yesterday or my first two at-bats today. Trying to use my legs a little more and get in more of a squat position. It helps me feel a little more comfortable up there.”
Houston went up 5-3 in the eighth off Kirby Yates when Jeremy Peña singled, stole second and scored on Corey Julks' single.
Valdez (2-2) gave up Sean Murphy's fifth homer, a 424-foot shot to left field, to make it 1-0 in the fourth. He also allowed Ozzie Albies' fifth long ball, a two-run shot that went 421 feet to left and trimmed Houston's lead to 4-3 in the sixth.
Valdez, facing the Braves for the first time in the regular season, allowed eight hits, three runs, no walks and struck out nine in seven innings. The lefty made two starts against Atlanta in the 2021 World Series, allowing 10 runs and 12 hits in 4 2/3 combined innings. He finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting last year.
Bryan Abreu faced the minimum in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Wright (0-1) gave up seven hits, one walk and four runs - three earned - in five innings. He led the majors with 21 wins last year, but started the season on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.
“I expect every time I take the mound that we’re going to win,” Wright said. “I’ve got to start pitching to that standard, so I’m happy with some of the things I’ve done but at the same time you’ve got to win and that’s what I want to do.”
Atlanta RF Ronald Acuña Jr. went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to .378. He stole a career-high three bases and has 11 this season. He began the night with 31 hits, tied for second-most in the majors. Acuña leads the majors with 13 hits to lead off a game after hitting a single in the first. ... Houston 2B Mauricio Dubón singled in the ninth to extend the majors' longest active hitting streak at a career-best 16. He came around to score on José Abreu's RBI single off Joe Jiménez in the ninth. ... Álvarez began the night tied with the Mets' Pete Alonso for the majors' lead in RBIs with 23 and now has 25. Álvarez has reached safely in 19 straight games, the longest streak in the AL.
Grissom booted routine plays in the third and the sixth. He lost the job in spring training to veteran Orlando Arcia because his defense was lacking, but was called up April 14 when Arcia went on the injured list. He has three errors in eight games.
Atlanta DH Marcell Ozuna was booed each time he grounded out in the third, the fifth and the seventh. His average dropped to .078. Ozuna hasn't been favored by fans since getting arrested for DUI last year during the season and for domestic violence during the previous season. Sam Hilliard pinch hit for Ozuna in the ninth.
The Braves dropped to 0-2 when wearing their new Nike City Connect throwback uniforms, which pay tribute to the 1974 uniforms the team wore when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer to break Babe Ruth's record.
Braves LHP Max Fried (1-0, 1.08 ERA) faces RHP Cristian Javier (2-0, 3.68 ERA) as the teams play the finale of a three-game series.
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