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Astros hold off D-backs after Morton's gem

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton pitched a gem and the Astros held off a late power surge by the D-backs to win consecutive games for the first time this month with a 9-5 victory on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros maintained their 12 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the American League West, while Arizona is one game behind Colorado atop the National League Wild Card standings, staying four games ahead of Milwaukee.

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HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton pitched a gem and the Astros held off a late power surge by the D-backs to win consecutive games for the first time this month with a 9-5 victory on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros maintained their 12 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the American League West, while Arizona is one game behind Colorado atop the National League Wild Card standings, staying four games ahead of Milwaukee.

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Morton (10-5) tied a career high with his 10th victory of the season by winning his fifth start in eight outings since being activated from the disabled list. He struck out nine -- including five of the first six batters he faced -- and walked four while throwing 107 pitches across 6 1/3 innings.

"To start the game that way was electrifying," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When [J.D. Martinez] made contact [on a flyout in the second], that was the most noteworthy thing in the first couple of innings. It was strikeout after strikeout, power fastball. ... Entering the game, being able to set the tone with a good fastball like that, is a pretty good showing."

Every Astros starter had at least one hit, with two hits from Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Beltran and Alex Bregman, and three from George Springer. Thirteen of Houston's 16 hits were singles.

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Video: ARI@HOU: Gurriel grounds an RBI double down the line

"Every inning, it felt like we were putting some form of pressure on them," Hinch said. "We stole a couple of bases, had some good baserunning plays, got some big hits, hit the ball out of the ballpark a couple of times. You do all of that in one nine-inning game, we're going to score a lot of runs."

The Astros were leading, 5-1, heading to the eighth before reliever Luke Gregerson gave up a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt -- his 29th of the season -- and a solo homer to Martinez as the D-backs went back to back to trim the lead to 5-4. The Astros answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, capped by Reddick's two-run homer -- his first off a lefty this season.

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"[The bullpen], unfortunately, didn't do what they were capable of doing, and I think you've got to give the Astros a little credit," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "They came out after we battled to bring it within one run. They came to life, and that's what good teams do."

Video: ARI@HOU: McFarland starts a double play

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltran's blast: Beltran took D-backs starter Taijuan Walker deep in the second inning, launching a 438-foot homer, his longest ever recorded by Statcast™. The homer, which put the Astros ahead, 1-0, was the 435th of his career, carrying him past Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones and putting him alone in 46th place on the all-time list.

Video: ARI@HOU: Beltran clobbers a solo homer to right

Clipped in the seventh: The D-backs chased Morton with one out in the seventh when Daniel Descalso singled and Chris Iannetta walked. Hinch summoned new Astros reliever Tyler Clippard, who struck out Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury to end in the inning in his home debut. Clippard, acquired from the White Sox on Sunday, hasn't allowed a run in 10 consecutive outings, including two with Houston.

"Clippard came in and got some of the most important outs of the night," Hinch said.

Video: ARI@HOU: Clippard fans Drury to strand a pair

QUOTABLE
"It was huge for me. I've taken a lot of pride in doing better against lefties this year and not trying to hit homers off them, per se. Just trying to get good pitches and drive runs in." -- Reddick, on hitting his first homer off a lefty this season

Video: ARI@HOU: Reddick laces a two-run homer to right field

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros have had at least 16 hits in a game 14 times this season, which is a franchise record.

WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: Patrick Corbin gets the start on Thursday at 11:10 a.m. MST as the D-backs wrap up a four-game home-and-home series with the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Corbin, who will be making his first start against Houston, tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Cubs his last time out.

Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers will start Thursday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the D-backs at Minute Maid Park. Fiers is 0-3 with an 8.41 ERA in his last four starts, allowing seven homers in 20 1/3 innings.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.