HOUSTON (AP) — Chas McCormick and Martín Maldonado hit consecutive homers and Luis Garcia worked seven strong innings as the Houston Astros stretched their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
McCormick’s two-run homer to center in the second inning put the Astros up 2-1. Maldonado followed with a solo shot that just cleared the wall in right field.
“I’m happy that we are starting to win,” McCormick said. “We are getting the ball rolling. This team is a really good team. I’m just happy that we are starting to win some games. It’s been a long stretch of games, and it’s been a good feeling that we have been winning.”
Garcia (2-1) had his best outing of the season, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits. He struck out nine, matching his career high. The right-hander retired the final 15 batters he faced, including five straight by strikeout at one point.
Garcia said his cutter was nasty, but he had to figure it out after the third inning. Maldonado said it was a mechanical adjustment Garcia made.
“(His cutter) was really good, and it had shape to it and depth to it,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “I couldn’t tell if it was a cutter or curveball or slider. He had them off balance with it.”
Houston played its 15th straight game out of 17 without an off day. The Astros next off day will be on Monday. Houston starters have pitched into the sixth in seven straight starts and 10 of the last 12 starts.
“It starts with the starters,” Baker said. “The deeper they go, the better our bullpen is and not overworked, and it’s been really great during this stretch because we were fearful with this stretch with all the games that we have play in a short period of time.
“It was good to win. We were losing some one-run games early and now we are winning some one-run games. A lot of that is pitching, speed and defense.”
Phil Maton pitched a perfect eighth, and Rafael Montero retired the three batters he faced in the ninth for his third save. Astros pitchers retired the final 21 Detroit batters.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the second on an RBI groundout by Tucker Barnhart. Detroit cut Houston’s lead to 3-2 in the third on an RBI groundout by Jeimer Candelario.
Detroit starter Beau Brieske (0-2) surrendered three runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. The rookie right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his first three big league starts.
“The momentum team that these guys can be, things got a little bit fast for him, and they came up and did damage,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “I thought he settled in pretty nicely after that, and he started using his pitches a little better. They were using fastballs early, and he used his secondary pitches much better as the game went along.”
Detroit, which lost its third straight, was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Houston was 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Tigers: OF Austin Meadows was scratched from the lineup with a non-COVID-19 illness. Robbie Grossman started in right field in Meadows’ place.
HE SAID IT
“He gets a lot of swing and misses. It also looked like he made a little bit of an adjustment during the game. We got better swings early, we didn’t get a lot of swings late. He missed a lot of bats as the game moved along. He’s proven to be good at adjustments. Be it usage or feel for his pitches, the results are what they are. He beat us tonight.” — Hinch on Garcia.
LHP Framber Valdez (1-2, 3.42 ERA) starts Saturday for Houston looking for his first win since beating the Angels on April 7. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 5.33) is seeking his first win for the Tigers after struggling this season and allowing at least three runs in each of his five starts.
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