HOUSTON -- With two swift runs, the Astros handed ace Dallas Keuchel a lead they would never give up before the second inning even began.Prior to George Springer's mammoth two-run homer in the fourth, the Astros scored their first two batters, Springer and Jose Altuve, quickly pacing Houston to a
HOUSTON -- With two swift runs, the Astros handed ace Dallas Keuchel a lead they would never give up before the second inning even began.
Prior to George Springer's mammoth two-run homer in the fourth, the Astros scored their first two batters, Springer and Jose Altuve, quickly pacing Houston to a 5-2 win Saturday night over the Orioles.
"The entire building feels good," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "If you like the Astros, you like the Astros even better with a lead and with Keuchel pitching. It means something to our dugout and puts a little pressure on the other dugout. Dallas has the ability to command the game, especially when we have the lead."
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The Astros' offense overpowered the Orioles with 11 hits, and did so behind Keuchel in his first start since May 16. After being activated from the disabled list for a pinched nerve in his neck, Keuchel (8-0) tossed six innings of one-run baseball, aided by eight strikeouts.
"[Keuchel] has ways to answer every challenge, and that's what makes him special," Hinch said.
Springer's home run was projected to travel 447 feet, according to Statcast™, and was insurance for the Astros -- who have an MLB-best 34 wins through 50 games. Since 2000, 10 teams have won at least 34 of their first 50 games, with the Cubs starting 35-15 last year en route to a World Series championship.
The Orioles have lost six in a row for the first time since 2015.
"We just haven't been doing much offensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's a real tribute to their pitchers and us not swinging the bat real well right now."
Houston's defense also played a part in extending Baltimore's slide, with shortstop Carlos Correa avoiding teammates in shallow center field to haul in an over-the-shoulder catch for the first out of the eighth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Springer's 10th dinger: After an Alex Bregman single, Springer crushed his home run to left-center field. According to Statcast™, Springer's long ball left the bat at 109.3 mph and was the second longest homer he's hit this season, trailing a 454-footer on April 6.
"Just trying to hit the ball hard," Springer said. "There's an RBI out there and that was a big spot in the game. I was just trying to get a spot I can hit and didn't want to miss it."
Quick work: To begin the bottom of the first inning, Springer hit a single against lefty Wade Miley. Altuve then shot a double over center fielder Joey Rickard, who replaced Adam Jones (sore ankle) in the starting lineup. Springer made an acrobatic dive to plate the Astros' first run, then Altuve scored on a Correa base hit, putting Houston up 2-0 before its fourth batter reached the batter's box.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Chris Davis' seventh-inning leadoff triple was his first three-bagger since Sept. 21, 2013 at Tampa Bay.
After the Astros' two quick runs in the first inning, Correa was moved to second base on a single by Marwin Gonzalez. Correa, taking a lengthy lead, was initially called safe on a 1-6 pickoff before the umpires overturned the call on the Orioles' challenge.
Orioles:Alec Asher makes his third start of the season, and the right-hander went at least six innings in his first two. Asher takes the spot in the rotation after Ubaldo Jimenez was moved to the bullpen. Sunday's 2:10 p.m. ET game concludes the three-game series.
Astros:Lance McCullers, who is riding a 22-inning scoreless streak, takes the mound at 1:10 CT Sunday. He is coming off a five-inning start in which he allowed only one hit vs. Detroit. The right-hander is set to make his 11th start of the season, with the Astros winning eight of his first 10 starts. McCullers is 2-0 in his career against Baltimore.
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Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston and covered the Astros on Saturday.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the Orioles on Saturday.