A grand slam by George Springer was the key play in a five-run sixth that opened a close game Saturday at the Big A and led to a 7-0 blanking of the Angels which dropped Anaheim below the .500 mark. Seattle lost which gives Houston a six-game edge in the division, their biggest lead all season.
Springer: Props after slam
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Justin Verlander snapped a month-long losing skid with six frames of shutout ball. Three relievers added a scoreless inning each. Anaheim actually outhit the Astros, 7-5, but were undone, in part, by three errors. Verlander struck out eleven on the afternoon while allowing five hits and walking two.
Former Astro Nick Tropeano started for Anaheim and found himself with the bases loaded in the third. Yuli Gurriel, sent a sacrifice fly to center which sent home Kyle Tucker with the game's first run. Tucker had singled snapping a slump going back to last week.
Marwin Gonzalez reached on an error the next inning then advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw. From there Tony Kemp snuck a double down the right field line to score Houston's second run.
Jose Alvarez took over for Tropeano in the sixth and Josh Reddick greeted him with a solo shot, the 10th homer of the year for Reddick. A single and two walks filled the bases before Springer pounced on a 3-2 curveball and sent it over the left-center fence for a grand slam. It was the fifth slam of Springer's career and pushed the lead to 7-0.
Houston could have scored more but Reddick bounced into a double play with the bases full to end the inning.
Joe Smith, Brad Peacock and Tony Sipp rounded out the pitching as Houston upped their record to 66-35.
The Astros look for the sweep on Sunday as Lance McCullers (10-4) toes the rubber against lefthander Andrew Heaney (5-6). The first pitch is scheduled for 3:07 pm Central time. Then the Astros will get another off day before starting a two-game series in Colorado.
- Bob Hulsey