HOUSTON -- Even on a day starting pitcher Charlie Morton couldn't finish six innings, the firepower of the Astros' offense was too much for the White Sox.Yuli Gurriel clubbed a three-run homer in the third inning and Alex Bregman hit a two-run shot in the sixth as the Astros joined
HOUSTON -- Even on a day starting pitcher Charlie Morton couldn't finish six innings, the firepower of the Astros' offense was too much for the White Sox.
Yuli Gurriel clubbed a three-run homer in the third inning and Alex Bregman hit a two-run shot in the sixth as the Astros joined the Red Sox as the only 60-game winners in the Majors with a 12-6 victory Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"I think we're swinging the bats well," Bregman said. "I think we're playing good baseball, and I think our pitching staff is throwing the ball really well, and offensively we've done a good job of passing the baton to the next guy, and if we continue to do that, we'll be successful."
After the White Sox scored four times in the sixth off Morton (11-2) to get within a run, Bregman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to 8-5 and help send the Astros to their fifth consecutive win. It's the second season in a row the Astros have reached 60 wins prior to the All-Star break.
"He's doing everything right in the batter's box, as far as seeing the ball," manager AJ Hinch said of Bregman. "His selectiveness, his approach is A-plus. His bat-to-ball has been exceptional. He can really hit and he can put together an at-bat, and that's saying something the whole length of time he's been able to put it together."
The Astros bashed out 17 hits and have posted double-digit runs four times this season in six games against the White Sox. Bregman, the American League Player of the Month for June, went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer. Gurriel drove in four runs, and Max Stassi had three hits.
The game marked the Major League debut for Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, the No. 8 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Tucker struck out three times against White Sox starter James Shields before ripping a single to right in the seventh off Bruce Rondon for his first big league hit. Tucker drew a bases-loaded walk off of Juan Minaya in the eighth for his first RBI.
"It was awesome," Tucker said. "I had a lot of fun tonight and we came up with the win so that makes it even better. Just being in the big leagues is awesome, especially this team."
Morton struck out eight batters in his first four innings, allowing one run, before being pulled after 5 2/3 innings following a bases-loaded, three-run double by Omar Narvaez that brought the White Sox to within a run, 6-5. Will Harris struck out Tim Anderson to strand Narvaez at third.
"I feel bad for Charlie," Hinch said. "He started to spray the ball, and just a little feel for his breaking ball, which made him a little more predictable with the fastball, and he got burned by it. That said, he pitched better than the line indicates, that's going to be the day today."
The Astros built their 6-1 lead partially on the strength of Gurriel's homer and RBIs off the bats of Josh Reddick and Evan Gattis in the fifth against Shields, who allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Houston was 8-for-18 with runners in scoring position and had seven extra-base hits.
"We felt like we had the game in hand early in the game, with a five-run lead with Charlie Morton on the mound and a full bullpen and still plenty of at-bats left and then it quickly dissolved," Hinch said. "They gave us a pretty good punch there in that inning and put up a big number, but our guys responded."
Jose Altuve's 121 hits are the third-highest total by an Astros player before the All-Star break, trailing only his 2014 season (130) and Bob Watson (123) in 1974.
HE SAID IT
"He'll sleep well tonight. I think the adrenaline was kicking a little bit even for a mild-mannered, even-keeled guy. The first day is always going to be memorable for him. For him to contribute at any level in a win in front of a home crowd, that's about as loud a cheer for a foul ball that I've heard in his home debut, think the fans were excited to have him here." -- Hinch, on Tucker
Dallas Keuchel (5-8, 4.12 ERA) will take the mound for Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park. The lefty is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in his last four starts despite allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings June 27 against the Blue Jays. In his other three starts in that span, he's allowed two earned runs and 17 hits in 19 innings. Right-hander Lucas Giolito (5-7, 6.93 ERA) will start for the White Sox.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.