Astros thwart D-backs in rubber game
HOUSTON -- Carlos Gomez collected his first two RBIs as an Astro with a fourth-inning tiebreaking single, while Collin McHugh danced around trouble all afternoon, stranding seven D-backs in seven innings to propel Houston to its 60th win and secure a series victory, 4-1, on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
"I stepped to the plate and it was a different feeling like, 'I got this,'" Gomez said. "So finally I put a good swing and hit it the other way to produce for the team. ... I just stayed inside and drove the ball the other way and I put a good swing on it. ... I made an adjustment, saw the ball better, stayed inside and hit it good."
Evan Gattis added his 17th home run -- an opposite-field shot in the fifth -- to give McHugh all the run support he needed to pick up his 13th win while scattering eight hits in seven innings of one-run ball. McHugh and teammate Dallas Keuchel are tied for the most wins in the American League.
For the second straight game, Arizona scored first, but was unable to hold the lead thanks to a quick Houston response. After Jake Lamb's RBI double put the D-backs up, 1-0, in the second, Jed Lowrie led off the home half with a double off starter Robbie Ray and was brought home on Chris Carter's sacrifice fly two batters later. Ray battled an elevated pitch count all day, needing 103 pitches to make it through just five innings.
"It's tough when you've got guys on base and you're in those high pressure situations all the time," Ray said. "Eventually, it's going to catch up to you."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
McHugh makes do: Though he allowed four doubles and had the tying run at the plate with less than two outs in the seventh, McHugh notched his fourth straight win by handling the top third of the D-backs order, forcing them into an 0-for-11 afternoon with four strikeouts -- including two of two-hole hitter Yasmany Tomas to wiggle out of jams in the fifth and seventh. It was McHugh's fourth consecutive win and, dating back to Aug. 1, 2014, he leads the Majors with 20 wins, going 20-5 with a 3.47 ERA.
"We've kind of gotten into a little groove, myself and both the catchers, I think they have a good idea of what I'm doing well and what I'm struggling with," McHugh said. "They've done a really good job of guiding me along through some tough games, and there have been some tough games in those decisions, so today was no different. Huge team win." More >
Getting picked: The D-backs seemed to have a rally going against McHugh in the second when Welington Castillo and Lamb collected back-to-back one-out doubles to tie the game at 1. After Aaron Hill lined out to right, Cliff Pennington drew a walk and before Nick Ahmed had a chance to drive home a run, Lamb was picked off second.
"Not a good situation," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "That was not a good play by him." More >
Moveable Marisnick: Making his first start in a position other than center field, Jake Marisnick saved at least one run in the second when he dove full extension to grab Hill's sinking liner to right field with one out and Lamb on second. McHugh picked Lamb off a few pitches later to limit the Astros' early deficit to just one.
"Those types of plays, where you make a great play to save the base hit and maybe a run, then you really take the tempo out of the inning by making an out on the bases," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "Our defense continues to methodically get through games pretty well. With Marisnick being able to move around, we have a dynamic outfield."
Goldy left on deck: The D-backs had runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh and Tomas at the plate. After taking the first two pitches for balls, home-plate umpire Dale Scott called the next two pitches strikes despite Pitch f/x showing them off the plate. Tomas then struck out swinging to end the inning with Paul Goldschmidt on deck.
"We just had situations we should have scored runs in and we didn't get the runs in," Hale said. "It would have made the score a lot closer. We just failed to do that, so we have to tighten that up."
"I'm fine anywhere, but I love here. Those guys make me feel sexy." -- Gomez, on how he's fitting in to the Astros' clubhouse More >
D-backs: The D-backs open a four-game series against the Nationals on Monday at 4:05 p.m. MT at Nationals Park. Rookie righty Zack Godley, making his third Major League start, won his first two starts and lasted six innings in both contests.
Astros: Rookie Lance McCullers opens a three-game AL West series in Arlington against the Rangers on Monday at 7:05 p.m. CT. He's the first pitcher in club history to allow three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his first 13 career starts and his 78 strikeouts are second all time in club history for a pitcher's first 13 career games.
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