ST. PETERSBURG -- After scuffling through his last few games at the plate, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was looking for something to kickstart his bat. He came into Saturday night's 6-3 loss to the Rays just 2-for-11 over his last three games.
Altuve was 1-for-3 with a walk and stolen base on Saturday. The one hit was his first home run of the season.
Facing Rays starter Blake Snell in the fourth, Altuve connected with the first pitch he saw, sending a towering fly ball to left-center field, extending the Astros lead to 2-0.
"It feels good every time you hit a homer, score a run or make a play," Altuve said. "I felt like I needed that home run to get me going. I wasn't swinging the bat really good right now and I feel like this team deserves to have everybody playing good. I wanted to be part of the winning record we've got."
Altuve scored a run and made an impressive play two innings later. After walking to lead off the inning, he stole second base and put himself in position to make another play.
"That's part of my game," said Altuve, who now has seven steals on the season. "It feels like every time I get on base, I have to be ready for taking off to second. [Manager A.J. Hinch] gives me the green light every day so I just have to take that chance."
With Evan Gattis at the plate and one out, Altuve took off for third on the pitch. Gattis hit a chopper to Rays first baseman Logan Morrison who got the force out at first, but he didn't notice Altuve heading home.
"The next thing I saw was everyone giving me their backs, so nobody was looking at me," Altuve said. "It was really quick, I got the chance so I went. I don't know if it was the right thing or not, but I scored, and I felt like we needed that run in the moment."
Morrison's throw was high and not in time to catch the streaking Altuve, who slid in to put Houston up 3-2.
"We wanted him to get some action on the bases and he certainly did," Hinch said. "At the time, it was one of the bigger base running plays of the day because it gave us the lead."