Springer's 2 HRs help lift Astros past Rockies
HOUSTON -- George Springer blasted a pair of solo home runs and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel won his eighth game by allowing three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings to lead the first-place Astros to their third win in four games, 6-3, over the Rockies on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
"I think Dallas has a special night every night he pitches, which is putting our team in position to win," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I thought early on he was as sharp as he's been all year, getting ground balls, getting soft contact. He was really in command of himself."
The Astros used another first-inning outburst to take control of the game, scoring four times against Rockies starter Chad Bettis (2-2). Preston Tucker had an RBI single, and Colby Rasmus blasted a three-run homer to give the Astros a 4-0 lead.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss' club learned what teams have been discovering all season -- the Astros' power is dangerous. Houston is 24-0 when it hits more than one homer in a game, while the Rockies have lost 12 straight Interleague road games to trail only the Pirates (13, 2009-11) and Dodgers (15, 2005-06) for the longest such streak.
"That is a dynamic offensive club," Weiss said. "They hit the ball out of the park better than anybody in the game, and we saw that tonight. It's a dangerous lineup."
Keuchel (8-2) retired the first 15 batters he faced before giving up two runs and three hits in the sixth. Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado both had RBI singles to cut the lead to 5-2, and Nick Hundley chased Keuchel with an RBI double in the seventh. Springer's second homer, leading off the seventh against LaTroy Hawkins, pushed the lead to 6-3.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Keuchel unhittable early: Keuchel was as sharp as he's been all season through five innings, retiring the first 15 batters he faced to become the second consecutive Astros starting pitcher to carry a no-hitter into the sixth. The Rockies scored two runs on three hits and a walk in the sixth and got within two runs, 5-3, in the seventh, but the lefty was still able to win for the first time in three June starts.
"My slider wasn't very good at first, but I stuck with it and got a few strikeouts," Keuchel said. "I just ran out of gas there in the sixth inning. That's unfortunate. That's a great team over there and they have some firepower of their own. A five-run lead is pretty good, and if I blew that, I don't deserve to win." More >
Springer's dingers: The Astros' high-flying right fielder has emerged as the team's best offensive player with his impressive performance in June. He recorded his second career multi-homer game with solo shots in the second and seventh innings, giving him 10 for the season, but he also made a pair of excellent diving catches, including a beauty near the line to rob DJ LeMahieu of a hit in the sixth.
"I'm just trying to slow myself down and understand that if I get something to hit, I have to hit it," Springer said. "For me, it's all about getting on base and just getting to first for whoever's up behind me. Whoever's up behind me can hit, too. Get to first base to help us out and we'll go from there." More >
The gloves showed up: Keuchel's dominance left the Rockies with little to remember, but there were two defensive plays against consecutive batters in the fourth -- shortstop Tulowitzki's diving stop of Carlos Correa's gounder, and third baseman Arenado's sprinting grab of Tucker's no-man's-land bloop to end the inning.
Labor increase: Rafael Ynoa created the first blemish on Keuchel's night by drawing a walk on a seven-pitch tussle to open a sixth inning that included Hundley's single for the Rockies' first hit, and RBI hits by Tulowitzki and Arenado. Keuchel stymied the Rockies on 60 pitches through the first five innings, but needed 46 to go an additional 1 2/3 before leaving.
"You see him out there competing and keeping a good hitting team off the board. Obviously, for us, that's inspiring out in the field and he's our guy, so we want to play hard behind him." -- Springer, on Keuchel
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In their last three wins, the Astros have outscored the opposition, 15-0, in the first inning.
Astros rookie shortstop Correa had three hits (3-for-4) for his second career multi-hit game. He's hit safely in six of his first seven Major League games and has reached base safely in all seven games. With nine hits in seven games, he joins Jose Altuve and Jimmy Paredes as the only Astros hitters to do that.
Rockies: Rockies lefty Chris Rusin (2-1, 3.38 ERA) was strong in his first three appearances, but gave up five runs in the first two innings and six total in 5 1/3 innings of a loss to the Marlins in his last start. Rusin will face the Astros and right-hander Vincent Velasquez on Tuesday at 12:10 p.m. MT.
Astros: Velasquez will make his second Major League start and first at Minute Maid Park as the Astros wrap up a five-game homestand at 1:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday against the Rockies. Velasquez tossed five scoreless innings in his big league debut, allowing only three hits with five strikeouts, but the Astros dropped a 4-1 decision to the Chicago White Sox in the midst of their seven-game losing streak.
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