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TB@HOU: Wallace crushes a three-run shot to tie it

HOUSTON -- It is hard to overshadow an extra-inning loss that included 12 combined runs and an opposing player producing two separate go-ahead hits in the late innings, but Brett Wallace did his best Thursday.

Wallace went 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs, including a tying eighth-inning blast of his own, but Houston reliever Josh Fields could not hold down the Rays as Tampa Bay outlasted Houston, 7-5, after 11 innings on Independence Day at Minute Maid Park.

"Emotional rollercoaster," Houston manager Bo Porter said of the game. "To give up the three [in the eighth] and then fall behind, and Wally hit the three-run homer, you really wanted to build off that momentum and end it right there. The boys battled, and it was a really good baseball game."

Wallace's tying homer was his second of the day, with an opposite-field solo shot in the fourth knotting the score at 1. The two home runs marked the second multihomer game of his career, with the other coming against Milwaukee on Aug. 1.

"I think it's always kind of a surprise," Wallace said of the two dingers. "You're always trying to just stay through the ball and hit it hard. I felt good at the plate, but two homers isn't something you're aiming for."

The loss ended a woeful nine-game homestand for the Astros, during which they went 2-7. They do not return to Minute Maid until July 19.

In the 11th, Fields gave up a leadoff walk to Tampa Bay catcher Jose Lobaton, who took second on a passed ball. Yunel Escobar wrapped up a 3-for-5 day by earning his third RBI on a go-ahead double down the right-field line.

Escobar later scored on a wild pitch from Houston lefty Wesley Wright, scoring the final run of a back-and-forth affair that featured three ties and three lead changes.

"This guy is definitely an All-Star-caliber player and absolutely a Gold Glove-caliber player," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Escobar. "As he continues to hit, more people will take notice; that's just the way this game works."

The late action negated Houston starter Jordan Lyles' solid outing. He pitched well enough for a win, but a first-inning RBI fielder's choice and a run-scoring wild pitch in the seventh left him with a no-decision.

"I had some low pitch counts after that first inning and settled things in, just letting them put the ball in play for my defense," Lyles said. "I just made a few poor pitches in the seventh, and the game got away from us a little."

Still, he exited the game with the score tied at 2.

After consecutive subpar outings, Lyles responded by posting a nearly identical line to Bud Norris' start Wednesday night. Lyles finished 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks, but unlike for Norris, there was no win to be had.

The typically reliable Jose Cisnero came on for the eighth, but the righty allowed three runs in the frame, more than he had surrendered in his previous 24 2/3 innings combined.

With the bases loaded, Lobaton gave the Rays a 3-2 edge with a fielder's choice grounder, but it was Escobar who did the real damage. The nine-hole hitter drilled Cisnero's initial offering out of Brandon Barnes' reach all the way up Tal's Hill in center field, scoring two more runs.

"It's part of the maturation that takes place," Porter said of Cisnero's rough outing. "You look at how good he's been over the course of time, and from our perspective, we'll say that he'll continue to be good. But we realize that the other guys get paid, too, and you'll run into days like this where you make good pitches and they put good swings on it."

Just as the air was deflated from Houston's sails, Wallace put some air under a ball.

Following a Jake Elmore walk and a Jose Altuve single, Wallace lifted a 1-2 pitch from Rays reliever Joel Peralta for what looked like a routine play in right field.

But Tampa Bay right fielder Wil Myers kept drifting back, and the towering ball finally stopped just beyond his glove in the stands, improbably tying the game.

"I thought it had a chance off my bat," Wallace said. "I cut it a little out front. It was a split-finger. As I was running down the line, I was waiting to see like everybody else. It was hard to tell."

Wallace has three home runs and eight RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 25. He has hit safely in seven of nine games, with five of his last seven hits going for extra bases.

"When you start driving the ball the other way, it opens you up," Porter said. "[Wallace's] double to left yesterday, an opposite-field home run today, and you see what happens. You bring the pitches back to Happy Land. He got something middle-in [in the eighth] and did what he should do with it."

Houston closer Jose Veras kept the Astros even, tossing a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation. He left the game in the 10th inning after taking a line drive off his pitching hand.

"When we went out there and he couldn't grip his changeup, that more or less made the decision for us," Porter said. "It hit him in the pinky area. He was checked out by the doctors, and they ruled out any fracture or break. It's just a bruise."

The Astros dropped to 3-2 in one-run games and have lost eight of their last nine against Tampa Bay, including three of four this week.

"Obviously, you feel like you should pull that game out," Wallace said. "We did everything we could, but they're hot over there. It was a tough series."

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