Astros Handle Snakes; Regain Ground On A's
Springer Comes Alive In 10-4 Win

New guy is taught the dance
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
If Charlie Morton is indeed retiring after this season, the 34-year-old righthander will be bowing out with the best numbers of his career. On Saturday, Morton won his career-high 15th victory in a 10-4 rout of Arizona that pushed Oakland back to 3-1/2 games behind the Astros with 14 games to go in the regular season.

Morton allowed just three hits and no walks over six innings while striking out seven before a crowd of 38,345 at Minute Maid. His ERA is a personal-best 3.15. I'm hoping he chooses to re-sign this winter but, if he does bow out, he'll be going out on top.

The Astros offense pecked away early against Zack Godley. Josh Reddick got it started in the second with a solo homer down the right field line that snuck over the fence. In the third, Jose Altuve walked, stole second and eventually scored on a bouncer by Yuli Gurriel.

Houston tallied three times in the fourth in an inning that right fielder Steven Souza Jr. would prefer to forget. Marwin Gonzalez plated two on a line smash that hit the wall in right yet bounced so hard Marwin was held to a single. When Gurriel came to the plate, he singled through the open hole at second and then the ball hopped past Souza's glove. Gonzalez scored and Souza was charged with a two-base error.

Three more runs were added in the sixth when Alex Bregman plated George Springer with a base hit. Gurriel, again, cracked a single to center that was good for two runs. Altuve added a two-run double in the seventh.

Arizona scored some runs late on Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock but the Astros could allow for some generosity while giving some recuperating arms some work.

It was a big evening for Springer (four hits, three runs), Altuve (2-for-3 with three runs scored) and Gurriel (two hits and 3 RBIs) as part of the 12-hit assault. The Astros also took advantage of eight walks.

Before the game, Houston purchased the contract of outfielder Myles Straw from Fresno. Straw made his big league debut late in Saturday's contest. The promotion is seen as more of a reward for an outstanding season in the minors. The 12th round selection of the 2015 draft swiped 70 bases combined at AA and AAA while hitting .291. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Astros transfered reliever Jandel Gustave to the 60-day disabled list.

The series finale, the wrap-up for interleague play, happens Sunday at Minute Maid with a match-up of former Cy Young winners. Justin Verlander (15-9) will have a showdown with Zack Greinke (14-9) in a 1:10 pm Central battle.

- Bob Hulsey