NEW YORK -- When Yordan Alvarez's ball sailed over the wall in right-center field to give the Astros their first lead of the weekend, things were beginning to feel different in Houston's dugout.
Josh Reddick had delivered a big swing in the sixth to tie the game, and even after the Yankees responded with a pair of runs in their half of that inning, Alvarez answered with a huge three-run homer, the type of hit the Astros have been desperately seeking for days.
"The dugout was really awake for the first time this whole road trip," Reddick said of Alvarez's shot in Houston's 7-5 loss to the Yankees, the Astros' seventh loss in a row.
But as the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours. And despite the picture-perfect night in the Bronx, the Astros seem to have a black cloud hovering over their heads these days.
Ryan Pressly, who had allowed three earned runs all season and entered the game in the seventh boasting a minuscule 0.81 ERA, quickly surrendered the lead when Austin Romine pounced on a first-pitch 97-mph fastball, shooting it the other way and into the short porch in right field.
"When things aren't going your way, they're not going to go your way," Pressly said. "Things kind of snowballed on us."
The Yankees scored two more runs in the inning, taking the lead on Giancarlo Stanton's hot shot to third, which glanced off Yuli Gurriel's glove for the decisive two-run single.
"He got ambushed on the fastball away by Romine and the inning kind of spiraled a little bit," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "You don't see him give up runs very often -- certainly multiple runs -- but they just put together an inning on him. Much like the way things have gone in the last week, it went against us."
Wade Miley didn't allow a hit until Gio Urshela's two-run homer with two out in the fifth, but the lefty was charged with two more runs in the sixth. The offense picked him up thanks to the two clutch homers, but Pressly's worst outing of the season proved to be too much for Houston to overcome.
"You feel a little snakebitten when everything has to be perfect for us to piece it together," Hinch said. "There are some frustrations that are building just because losing, it sucks. We're not putting things together for an entire game to get a win. You get the lead, there's a lot of momentum. You give the lead right back, it's a little deflating.
"Any time you lose a lead in any ballpark, it's tough. When you lose a lead given the week that we've had; we're all human, we're all pretty frustrated."
Saturday's setback marked the seventh straight loss for the Astros, matching the longest such streak in Hinch's 4 1/2 years as manager. The last time the Astros dropped seven in a row was June 2015, during Hinch's first season at the helm.
Reddick agreed with Hinch's assessment of the current state of the Astros, taking the manager's "snakebitten" comment to the next level.
"Black Mamba style, yeah," Reddick said. "That's what it feels like. It feels like it's spreading fast and we've got to find the antidote. Hopefully that's tomorrow with JV."
That would be Justin Verlander, who gets the start Sunday for the Astros. Verlander is having another strong season for Houston, though he's winless in his past three starts. He's given up three homers in each of his past two outings, and given the Yankees' penchant for the long ball, that's a dangerous formula as the former AL MVP and Cy Young winner looks to get the Astros back in the win column for the first time since last Saturday.
"That's a big boost; he's our horse who goes out there and puts a stop to things," Reddick said. "He's our ace for a reason; he's been an ace for so long in this game, he knows how to stop these things. We wouldn't be more comfortable with anybody else on the mound."
Even as they walked off the field with another loss, the Astros were doing their best to take some positives from the night. Reddick and Alvarez had come up with a pair of timely swings, though the lineup as a whole suffered through another rough night with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-9 while stranding 11 men on base.
During the seven-game losing streak, the Astros are 7-for-53 (.132) in those situations, stranding 61 runners in the process.
"Tonight was a big step moving forward despite the loss," Reddick said. "The two home runs to get us back in the game were a huge step; those were the swings we haven't had in Cincinnati and the first two games here. We haven't been able to pick up our starters and get us back in the ballgame. This was a step in the right direction, but obviously there's a few more steps that need to be taken."