Astros strike early, cruise past DiamondbacksPosted: Updated:
A trip that saw the Houston Astros drop six of the first seven games ended on a much-needed positive note for the AL West leaders.
The Astros had six extra-base hits in the first four innings, building a big enough lead to hold off the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-4 on Tuesday.
The Astros managed only four hits over the last five innings, but one was Max Stassi's solo home run in the ninth.
"We've had a rough week and a rough road trip, and it's nice to end it with a win and get home and get back to sort of how we're playing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We've led the league in offense in a lot of different categories, so I think today we looked a little bit more like ourselves."
The Astros had scored just five runs in their previous three games, one of those a shutout loss to the Diamondbacks and ace Zack Greinke on Monday.
But Houston jumped to an 8-0 lead in the fourth inning Tuesday.
Despite the quick start on offense, starting pitcher Brad Peacock couldn't get out of the bottom of the fifth, so Francis Martes (5-2) came on and struck out all four batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings for the victory.
Peacock contributed a double that gave the Astros a 7-0 lead after Diamondbacks starter Anthony Banda intentionally walked eighth-place hitter Jake Marisnick to put runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the third.
The Astros scored five runs off Banda in the second inning on three doubles, a triple, a single and a wild pitch. Four runs came with two outs, as George Springer's double drove in Marisnick and Stassi, and Alex Bregman tripled into the right-field corner to drive in Springer.
Springer raised his American League-leading batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs to .462.
Banda (1-3) threw a wild pitch and Bregman raced home with the final run of the inning. Stassi, called up from the minors Monday when catcher Brian McCann was placed on the disabled list, recorded his first hits and runs batted in of the season.
"We know we're a good offense, we just wanted to put together back-to-back-to-back (hits) and we did that. That's one of the things we've done a lot this year," Bregman said. "When we put together quality ABs like that we're a tough offense to stop."
Yuli Gurriel hit the Astros' second triple of the game in the fourth, driving in Jose Altuve. It was Gurriel's first career triple.
Peacock had a no-hitter through three but only lasted 4 2/3 innings, finishing with nine strikeouts and a walk. Banda went four innings and was charged with eight runs and nine hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
"I'm not taking anything away from them. It's just a matter of hitting spots and establishing the inside of the plate like I wanted to," Banda said. "It's a matter of missing spots and not executing pitches."
Jake Lamb doubled in two runs in the fourth, and Peacock walked Brandon Drury with the bases loaded and one out to force in a third run. But Peacock struck out Chris Herrmann and pinch hitter Gregor Blanco to end the threat.
Paul Goldschmidt's run-scoring double made it 8-4 in the fifth, and Peacock was done. Martes got out of the inning and was one of four Astros relievers who shut out the Diamondbacks for four innings.
The Diamondbacks have been one of the best teams in the majors at home this season, but the eight-game homestand they completed Tuesday saw them go 3-5. Arizona lost twice each to two division leaders, the Dodgers and Cubs, and dropped one of two to another division leader, the Astros.
MARTES IS TUESDAY HERO
Martes means Tuesday in Spanish, and the Astros reliever made this particular Tuesday his day in striking out all four batters faced. "His arm strength is incredible. When he's locked in the strike zone ... he really can be a dominant pitcher," Hinch said. "He's learning a lot. He's watching video for the first time in his career. He's learning how to game plan against hitters."
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. threw a bullpen session in Houston on Monday as he works his way back from the disabled list due to back discomfort. He's expected to throw another session later this week. ... RHP Will Harris(pitching shoulder soreness) is set to throw a bullpen session Wednesday in Houston, which could lead to a rehab assignment.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (concussion disabled list) threw a bullpen session Tuesday as he gets set for a rehab start expected for Thursday for Class-A Visalia. ... OF David Peralta is expected to rejoin the team in time for Thursday's game at Houston. He's on paternity leave.
Astros: RHP Charlie Morton (9-5) opens the Astros' home portion of the home-and-home series this week with Arizona on Wednesday. Morton is 3-1 in six career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Diamondbacks: RHP Taijuan Walker (6-6) faces the Astros. He's 4-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 10 road starts this season.