Deadlocked in a 1-1 draw, the top of the Houston lineup bulked up to carry Charlie Morton and the Astros to the start of a new winning streak Wednesday night in 5-1 triumph over Tampa Bay before a huge crowd of 43,409 at Minute Maid.
Two powerful little Astros
(c) Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle
First George Springer picked on an 0-2 fastball from Nathan Eovaldi to start the sixth inning and sent it over the gas pump in left center for a 2-1 lead. It was his team-leading 15th homer of the season. Still mad at himself for serving up the long ball to Springer, Eovaldi hung a slider to Alex Bregman who smashed his 11th homer of the season.
Next up was Jose Altuve who bashed his sixth of the year back in the fourth inning to tie the game. This time, Mighty Mouse straightened out a cut fastball and plunked it off the limestone above the Crawfords for his seventh dinger and second of the night to take a 4-1 advantage. Altuve was 3-for-4 to push his batting average up to .347 on the season.
Tony Kemp added an insurance single in the seventh to chase home Evan Gattis and closed out the eleven-hit attack.
Morton lasted just long enough to notch his ninth win, firing a two-hitter over six frames while walking four and striking out four. Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski and Ken Giles tossed three shutout innings to seal Houston's 50th win of the season.
The Yankess overtook Seattle on a late rally so Houston's win extended their lead in the AL West to three games over the M's. (Say thanks to Darrell for finally fixing the front page standings although they won't update until early the next morning).
The Reigning Champs take a well-earned day off on Thursday before returning to action on Friday for a weekend series with the recently vanquished Kansas City Royals. Dallas Keuchel (4-8) will attempt to build his own winning streak in the 7:10 pm Central opener as he has a rematch with fellow southpaw Danny Duffy (3-7).
Duffy will be lighter in the wallet than the last time we saw him, having been ejected over the weekend when the Astros were visiting.
- Bob Hulsey