HOUSTON -- Three doubles in the third inning ignited the Astros, Gerrit Cole held everyone but his brother-in-law in check and Tony Kemp and the latter part of the lineup thumped the Giants in an 11-2 win on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.Kemp, Houston's No. 9 hitter, collected five
HOUSTON -- Three doubles in the third inning ignited the Astros, Gerrit Cole held everyone but his brother-in-law in check and Tony Kemp and the latter part of the lineup thumped the Giants in an 11-2 win on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Kemp, Houston's No. 9 hitter, collected five RBIs on a pair of two-run singles and a sacrifice fly, smashing his previous career high of two RBIs in a game. Evan Gattis, Max Stassi and Kemp, the final three Astros in the lineup, recorded six of Houston's 13 hits with six RBIs.
"Tonight was a good night," Kemp said. "You can't say enough about what Cole did on the mound as well. Getting 100 [punchouts] is definitely a great feat, especially in the month of May, so I can't say enough about him either."
Gattis, Stassi and Alex Bregman cranked the doubles in the third against Giants lefty Andrew Suarez, giving Cole a safe cushion and the offense room to pound San Francisco's pitching staff. By the sixth inning, when the Giants had reached for their third pitcher of the evening, Houston had piled on six more runs to make it 9-2 and put the game out of reach.
"It was a really good night of offense by a lot of different people in the lineup," said Astros manager AJ Hinch.
For the second consecutive start, Cole's pitch count ran high around the fifth inning. Houston's bullpen became active in the sixth as Cole, who had eight strikeouts, surpassed the 100-K mark for the season in his 10th start, throwing 106 pitches in six innings.
Cole allowed four hits, three walks and two runs -- both coming when Brandon Crawford, whose sister, Amy, is married to Cole, launched a two-run homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the fifth.
"Obviously, not thrilled about it," Cole said, "but not terribly disappointed either."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Astros may not have needed a four-run sixth inning to beat the Giants, but they got one. J.D. Davis drew one of his three walks to lead off. With a single, Gattis moved Davis to second and Stassi loaded the bases with another walk. Kemp hit a sacrifice fly, Bregman laced his second RBI double of the game and Jose Altuve brought in the final two runs with a rifled single to left field.
"Our offense is at its best when we come at you and we grind out at-bats," Hinch said. "And we just keep coming at you and keep coming at you."
• Kemp became the fourth player in Astros history to record five RBIs from the ninth spot in the lineup, joining Jake Marisnick (2017), Hank Conger (twice, 2015) and Dave Giusti (1966).
• Bregman, who had two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base, joined Sean Berry as the only third basemen in Astros history to record that stat line in a game. Prior to Bregman and regardless of position, the last Astro to compile two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base in one game was Altuve in September 2013.
HE SAID IT
"The first time I faced him in my debut, he broke a bat and got a hit or broke a bat and got an out. He signed it and sent it over to me. I signed the pair of cleats that I pitched [in] tonight and I wrote [Giants announcer Duane] Kuiper's call, 'Outta here!' on the one, and then [Jon] Miller's 'Adios, pelota!' on the other one. I sent it over, try to have a little fun." -- Cole, on sending his cleats to Crawford after the game
The Astros wrap up their two-game Interleague series against the Giants at Minute Maid Park by sending right-hander Justin Verlander to the mound at 1:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Verlander leads the Majors in ERA (1.05), WHIP (0.71), opponents' batting average (.148) and opponents' OPS (.449). Jeff Samardzija will start for the Giants.
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.