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Astros hit 4 HRs, become 1st in MLB to 50 wins

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The defending World Series-champion Astros became the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins Wednesday night, doing it in electrifying fashion before a sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros blasted four solo homers, including back-to-back-to-back shots in the sixth inning, and rode six innings of one-run ball from starter Charlie Morton to beat the Rays, 5-1, for their 13th win in their last 14 games.

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HOUSTON -- The defending World Series-champion Astros became the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins Wednesday night, doing it in electrifying fashion before a sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros blasted four solo homers, including back-to-back-to-back shots in the sixth inning, and rode six innings of one-run ball from starter Charlie Morton to beat the Rays, 5-1, for their 13th win in their last 14 games.

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"It's pretty cool to get off to a good start, but there's a lot, a lot of baseball left," Bregman said. "But I think we know that better than anybody."

George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve rocketed consecutive homers off Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi to lead off the sixth to put the Astros (50-26) ahead, 4-1. Altuve (3-for-4) also homered in the fourth, giving him his third career multi-homer game.

Video: TB@HOU: Altuve crushes 2 solo HRs against the Rays

"It's been like this for me all season long," Altuve said. "To have Springer and Bregman hitting in front of me, I get to see them hitting every single time. That kind of creates some momentum to me, and it gets me going."

It was the sixth time in franchise history that the Astros have hit three consecutive homers and the first since Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva on May 2, 2008.

"The way the game was going, you start thinking about manufacturing runs, you start thinking about how you're going to pull out a close win," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It felt like the game was going to be kind of a make-or-break-type game on who could come up with the big hit. In a span of a few pitches ... what energy got put back into the building, and also our team. Pretty impressive."

Video: TB@HOU: Morton tosses 6 dominant innings

Morton (9-1) allowed one unearned run on two hits while throwing 96 pitches, working his way around four walks, all of which he issued after two outs. The only run Morton allowed came on a throwing error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel in the fourth, which put the Rays ahead, 1-0.

"Usually, if I get ahead quick, I get a little tempo going and I'm aggressive in the zone, and things usually work out," said Morton, who joined teammate Justin Verlander as a nine-game winner. "But I make a bad pitch or two, and then I lose the batter. I try to get back into my timing and delivery, and repeating my delivery. That's been a struggle for a few starts now."

Altuve hit a 410-foot homer off Eovaldi with one out in the fourth to tie the game, before Springer, Bregman and Altuve each blasted solo homers within seven pitches of each other in the sixth to push the lead to 4-1. Tony Kemp had an RBI single in the seventh.

Video: TB@HOU: Kemp plates Gattis with a single to right

"It definitely happened quick," Eovaldi said. "I think, after the Springer home run, I was a little more frustrated with my pitch location, where it was and how I got there. I think I had him 0-2, then he worked the count 2-2, then I missed with that fastball down and in when I was trying to go up and in. I just have to do a better job of executing my pitches in those situations."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Kemp makes impressive grab: After getting two outs to start the game, Morton gave up a double to Jake Bauers, walked Wilson Ramos and hit Joey Wendle to load the bases for Willy Adames, who hit a sinking fly ball to left-center field that Kemp caught on the dive to save at least two runs.

"That's probably the highlight of the game defensively for us," Hinch said. "Just because a lot of things can happen there. We're playing a little bit deep, and it looked like he got a little bit of a late start and then comes in with an acrobatic catch."

Video: TB@HOU: Kemp makes a spectacular diving grab

SOUND SMART
Bregman extended his on-base streak to 31 games, which is the second-longest active streak behind Shin-Soo Choo's 34-game streak for the Rangers.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Altuve's second homer was 112.3 mph off the bat, making it the hardest-hit ball he's had recorded by Statcast™ (start of 2015).

Video: TB@HOU: Altuve belts pair of 400+ ft. HRs to tracks

HE SAID IT
"I was actually talking to [pitching coach Brent Strom] down underneath the dugout, so I didn't get to see. I don't think I saw any of them. I saw one ball leave the park, but it was like, 'Should we go back up?'" -- Morton, on the three consecutive homers

UP NEXT
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.15 ERA) will look to build on his good outing against the Royals last time out when he faces Kansas City for the second start in a row in Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel held the Royals without an earned run in six innings last Saturday. Left-hander Danny Duffy (3-7, 5.55) will start for the Royals for the second consecutive time against the Astros.

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

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Charlie Morton