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Morton stalls Tribe over 7 innings for 6-0 mark

Righty fans 8, lowers ERA to 1.94; Kemp's 2B breaks tie in 7th
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Another dominant start by Charlie Morton and a late-inning rally, keyed by a clutch hit from Tony Kemp, was all the Astros needed to keep rolling Friday night.

Morton held the Indians to one run and four hits while striking out eight batters in seven innings, and Kemp broke a tie with a double to right field in the seventh inning to lead the Astros to their eighth win in 10 games, 4-1, at Minute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- Another dominant start by Charlie Morton and a late-inning rally, keyed by a clutch hit from Tony Kemp, was all the Astros needed to keep rolling Friday night.

Morton held the Indians to one run and four hits while striking out eight batters in seven innings, and Kemp broke a tie with a double to right field in the seventh inning to lead the Astros to their eighth win in 10 games, 4-1, at Minute Maid Park.

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"I thought I made some really good pitches and got away with some really bad pitches," Morton said. "We're winning as a team."

Indians starter Mike Clevinger walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh, and Kemp ripped a one-out double to right to score Marwin Gonzalez and put the Astros ahead, 2-1. Derek Fisher would have scored from first had Kemp's ball not been touched by a fan, but Fisher wound up scoring minutes later on a fielder's choice.

Video: CLE@HOU: Kemp gives the Astros the lead with a double

"I was trying to put something in play right there," Kemp said. "Luckily, the ball sat within the line, but the guy down there had to touch the ball. His wife got on him so it was pretty funny. I just got a heater I could handle and luckily it stayed within in the line."

Kemp's hit was the only one for the Astros with runners in scoring position (1-for-10).

"We had a lot of runners on base because we had really good at-bats," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Especially from the top half of the order and Tony at the back end. I always say if we keep giving ourselves a chance, we'll eventually come up with the big hit, and we did."

Video: CLE@HOU: Hinch on Morton's impressive start

Morton (6-0) remained unbeaten this season and lowered his ERA to 1.94 through nine starts, allowing just one hit through six innings. Edwin Encarnacion touched him for a game-tying homer in the seventh, but he struck out Greg Allen to end the inning and strand a pair of runners.

"Really good fastball, really good breaking ball, occasional split," Hinch said. "Really just one pitch that leaked over the middle of the plate to Encarnacion. Really happy that our team responded and [Morton] got the win. But an excellent performance and very methodical form of the way he's been pitching."

Video: CLE@HOU: Encarnacion ties the game with a solo homer

In 34 regular-season starts with the Astros, Morton is 20-7 with a 3.16 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings, including 9-0 with a 1.95 ERA in 12 starts since Sept. 15.

"He kind of came as advertised," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's really good stuff. It's velocity, it's offspeed. It's really good."

Clevinger (3-1) allowed three runs, eight hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. Allen robbed Alex Bregman of a two-run homer with a catch over the wall in right in the first, but George Springer crushed a solo homer in third to put the Astros ahead, 1-0.

Video: CLE@HOU: Springer skies a solo home run to left field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Astros reliever Chris Devenski, working for the first time in a week, started the eighth inning with two outs before allowing the Indians to load the bases on a pair of hits and a walk to Encarnacion. Devenski recovered to get Yonder Alonso to pop out on the infield to end the threat. He has been scoreless in 15 of his last 16 appearances.

"'Devo' hasn't pitched in the last week, and he got through the first couple of hitters and then a couple of soft singles and a walk," Hinch said. "You get yourself into a little bit of jam with no room for guys. He makes pitches. He has the ultimate equalizer in the changeup, and even when the league knows he's going to throw it, it's really hard for them to lay off of it."

Video: CLE@HOU: Devenski escapes bases-loaded jam in the 8th

HE SAID IT
"For the record, at home, don't touch the ball when we're about to score an extra tack-on run. Please. Thank you." -- Hinch, on Kemp's hit that ended in a ground-rule double when an Astros fan touched the ball, which kept a second runner from scoring on the play

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Indians unsuccessfully challenged a tag play at the plate in the seventh inning. Fisher was called safe at the plate on Springer's infield grounder, sliding in past the tag of catcher Yan Gomes. After viewing all relevant angles, the replay official could not definitively determine that the fielder tagged the runner prior to the runner touching home plate.

Video: CLE@HOU: Fisher scores on close play at home

UP NEXT
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-5, 3.10 ERA) makes his 10th start of the season when he faces the Indians at 3:10 p.m. CT Saturday at Minute Maid Park in a battle for former Cy Young Award winners. Keuchel, who threw seven scoreless innings in his last start Sunday against the Rangers, is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his last three starts. Corey Kluber (6-2, 2.34 ERA) will start for Cleveland.

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, Tony Kemp, Charlie Morton, George Springer