HOUSTON -- Following Charlie Morton's career-high 15th win on Saturday night, the Astros made a point in the clubhouse to acknowledge the right-hander's accomplishment. It did not go unnoticed what Morton has mastered this season, as well as how he controlled the D-backs in Houston's 10-4 win.Morton (15-3) threw 55
HOUSTON -- Following Charlie Morton's career-high 15th win on Saturday night, the Astros made a point in the clubhouse to acknowledge the right-hander's accomplishment. It did not go unnoticed what Morton has mastered this season, as well as how he controlled the D-backs in Houston's 10-4 win.
Morton (15-3) threw 55 of 70 pitches for strikes. He made quality pitches, limiting Arizona to two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks over six innings before walking off the mound at Minute Maid Park.
"He does a great job of keeping the other team off their game," said George Springer, who led Houston's 12-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night. "He works his butt off to get to where he is and the position he is in.
"And true to Charlie Morton form, he got shy and tried to pass on the credit to his teammates. But he deserves it."
There was nothing shy about Houston's offense in picking up its 11th win in 13 games this month. Yuli Gurriel drove in three runs, Josh Reddick hit his 14th home run and the Astros took advantage of the wildness of Arizona starter Zack Godley.
The Astros collected 12 hits and drew eight walks, reaching double figures in runs for the 16th time this season to even the series and, with Oakland's loss at Tampa Bay, increase their lead over the A's to 3 1/2 games in the American League West.
Saturday was the third time this season Morton did not issue a walk. His low pitch count was attributed to getting ahead of hitters.
"It was a lot more fun pitching ahead," Morton said. "Just getting ahead early, just worked out. The guys were genuinely happy for me. The wins mean a lot to me because they're with this group, having spent a lot of time with these guys."
Morton's previous high of 14 wins was set last season, his first with Houston.
"He's found a routine that has finally, for him, stood the test of a season," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "He's already entered uncharted waters for him and he continues to tack on for his career. Especially as an Astro. These last couple of seasons he's been pushed harder than he's ever been pushed before, and he's done his part by being incredibly effective. He has a ton of weapons to get rid of hitters multiple times."
Already up, 2-1, the Astros began to pull away for Morton with three runs in the fourth inning, benefiting from a couple of defensive lapses by D-backs right fielder Steven Souza Jr., who on Friday made an outstanding diving catch to stymie a late Houston rally.
Souza had an opportunity to catch a ball hit by Marwin Gonzalez for what would have been the third out with no runs scoring. But the ball eluded a sprinting Souza's outstretched glove and banged off the wall for a single that scored Springer and Jose Altuve as the Astros took a 4-1 lead. On a hit-and-run play, Gonzalez scored from first on Gurriel's single to right when the ball went under Souza's glove as he charged in with designs on trying to throw out Gonzalez at third. The ball rolled nearly to the wall as Gonzalez strolled home easily for a 5-1 lead.
Godley (14-10) issued six walks over his first three innings, but the Astros didn't take full advantage, stranding the bases loaded in the first and third.
Ketel Marte took Morton deep in the fifth inning, and Eduardo Escobar homered off Chris Devenski in the eighth. Marte and Escobar had two of the D-backs' six hits.
Altuve stole his 16th base and Carlos Correa notched his third stolen base of the season. Houston's two stolen bases were its most since they had three on Aug. 7 at San Francisco.
HE SAID IT
"The quality of our at-bats was ridiculously good. When we bunch these together, we're really tough to get through. You can see how much pressure we were putting on them with the bat, and kept applying pressure" -- Hinch
Justin Verlander squares off with D-backs ace Zack Greinke at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday as the Astros try to win this three-game series. The Astros ace pitched seven innings in each of his last two starts -- wins vs. Minnesota and at Detroit.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.