Saturday, June 25, 2016

Altuve's 4 hits, 7-run frame key Astros' victory

 Jose Altuve homered in a four-hit night and drove in three runs, and the Astros bolted to a huge early lead for the second straight game in a 13-5 victory over the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Astros, who have won a season-high seven in a row and got 12 runs in the first two innings on Friday, put up seven runs in the second inning on Saturday. Altuve, whose homer was his 13th, had two doubles among his four hits. Carlos Correa homered, his 12th, and doubled in a run. The homers came back-to-back in the second.
The Astros pulled within 8 1/2 games of the American League West-leading Rangers, pending the Rangers-Red Sox outcome on Saturday night. The Royals fell to five games behind the AL Central-leading Indians.
Royals right-hander Chris Young pitched a scoreless first before his night fell apart. Young lasted 2 1/3 innings and gave up seven earned runs. In the first two games of the series, Royals starters have gone 3 1/3 innings and given up 19 runs (18 earned).
Royals catcher Drew Butera was called upon in the ninth inning. It was the fourth career pitching appearance for Butera, who gave up one hit, but wound up with a scoreless inning.
Astros starter Mike Fiers was only marginally better and couldn't secure a win despite being handed a 9-1 lead. Fiers got through one out in the fifth before Astros manager A.J. Hinch had seen enough. Fiers gave up nine hits, three walks and three runs.
Altuve falls off his cycle: The Astros second baseman came up to bat in the sixth needing a triple for the cycle, and when Altuve shot a ball into the left-center-field gap, he was smelling it. Altuve (4-for-5) was heading into second at full speed when he slipped and wiped out on the base, settling for a double -- his fourth hit of the game. Altuve, who doubled in the first and homered in the second, couldn't help but smile as his teammates laughed in the dugout.
Alex Gordon returns: The Royals got back Gordon from a rehab assignment, and he promptly hit a home run, his fifth, and a double. Gordon was activated prior to the game. He had been on the disabled list with a broken bone near his right wrist.
Escape artists: The Astros kept the Royals out of range by wriggling out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings with minimal damage. Fiers got Gordon to ground out to end the fourth -- with a 9-6-5 double play earlier in the inning looming large -- and relieverMichael Feliz retired Alcides Escobar and Cheslor Cuthbert to end the fifth and strand the bases loaded.
Bullpen taxed again: For the second straight night, the Royals turned to their bullpen after a starter exited early. This time, after Young's departure, right-hander Peter Moylan came on to calm the storm. Moylan slowed the Astros down, giving up two runs in 2 2/3 innings.Chien-Ming Wang threw three innings of one-run relief before tiring in the ninth and giving up three more runs.
The Astros scored at least 13 runs in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 8-9, 2000.
With runners on first and third and one out in the second inning, Royals center fielderLorenzo Cain originally was called out on the back end of a double-play grounder. The Royals challenged, and the call was overturned, which led to Cuthbert, who had been on third, scoring.
Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (8-3, 3.21 ERA) starts on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT in the series finale at Kauffman Stadium looking to win his eighth consecutive decision. He's allowed three runs or fewer in 12 consecutive starts, and the Astros have won 10 games in a row in which he's started.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (5-6, 4.19) will take the mound in the series finale on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Kennedy gave up two solo homers over four innings in a 2-1 loss to the Mets last Tuesday.

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