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Astros routed by Tribe after another brief start

HOUSTON -- Taking the mound on the eve of the anniversary of the magical perfect game he threw last year against the Mariners, Astros right-hander Philip Humber was anything but perfect Saturday night. And he wasn't alone.

Humber recorded an out to start the game before allowing the next nine batters to reach base and eight to score, opening the floodgates for the Indians, who scored early and often to snap a five-game losing streak with a 19-6 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The 19 runs allowed by Astros pitchers tied for the second-most allowed in team history, three shy of the club record of 22 set in 1987 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It tied the club record for most runs allowed in a home game.

"It's not fun," Humber said. "It's not what you planned on and not what you worked for. It's just one of those nights. I'll get them next time."

The Indians bashed out 22 hits -- their most in four years -- and got home runs from Mark Reynolds, Carlos Santana and Jason Giambi. The Tribe scored eight in the first against Humber and six more times in the second inning against reliever Dallas Keuchel to take a 14-0 lead, and they had built an 18-6 lead in the fourth before the Astros' bullpen righted the ship.

"It's always tough when you fall behind early, but at the same time, you don't want to concede anything," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I've seen some crazy things happen in this game. We had a 9-0 lead against the Braves last year in Washington and ended up losing the game, because you never know. The same way they had three consecutive big innings, that could happen on your end, and before you know it, you've got a ballgame. You have to play out the string."

Humber (0-4), who had pitched well in his first three starts but had received no run support, became the third Astros starter in the last five games to not survive the first inning in the shortest starts of their careers. Erik Bedard went one-third of an inning Monday in Oakland, and Bud Norris threw two-thirds of an inning Wednesday.

"It's hard on the bullpen," Humber said. "We haven't exactly held up our end of the bargain the last week or so. We have to pick it up as starters, but I'm really proud of the guys for just battling. It would have been easy to lie down after the first inning, but the hitters kept going out there and having good at-bats and kept playing hard. That's all you can ask for."

Astros rookie relief pitcher Paul Clemens put the brakes on the Indians by throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings and prevented what could have been a record offensive night for Cleveland. He helped save the bullpen in the process.

"It was very much needed," Porter said. "When you get into a game like this, the last thing you want to do is go through your entire bullpen, and Paul did a tremendous job of saving the rest of the bullpen and us not having to use [Jose] Veras and [Hector] Ambriz and Wesley Wright, and puts us in a good position tomorrow. There's always small victories, even in defeat, and Paul Clemens did a great job saving the rest of the bullpen."

Despite the huge lead, Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir -- making his first appearance in the Major Leagues since April 3, 2011 -- couldn't last long enough to get the win. He went only 3 1/3 innings and was yanked after 89 pitches after allowing six runs, seven hits and three walks.

"I thought they would be a lot more aggressive," he said. "The first time out there just got the best of me. Maybe I was trying to trick them."

The Astros scored three times in the second, including a two-run homer by Brandon Barnes, but it was far from enough. They tagged Kazmir for three in the third to cut the lead to 15-6, including a homer by Brandon Laird, but the Indians tacked on three more against Travis Blackley in his Astros debut to stretch the lead to 18-6 in the fourth.

Jose Altuve had a pair of hits for the Astros for his eighth multi-hit game, but another short outing by a starter put the Astros in an insurmountable hole.

"This is what you call a bump in the road, and it happens throughout the rotation," Porter said. "It happens that we've had three of our last five guys go out and run into trouble early in the game, and again I give credit to our bullpen for the work in which they've put in throughout this whole process. When those guys have gotten into trouble, we've managed to make it through the games and at the same time not burn the bullpen, and come back the next day in a good position to compete in that game as well."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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