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Astros' D lets down Cole as road streak ends

Righty takes first loss since April 23; Bregman stays hot with 2-run homer
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Astros made multiple errors in an inning for the first time this season, and it proved to be their downfall Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rays pushed across three runs in the fourth inning, including a pair of unearned runs against starter Gerrit Cole, and held on to beat the Astros, 3-2, to snap Houston's franchise-record road winning streak at 11 games.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Astros made multiple errors in an inning for the first time this season, and it proved to be their downfall Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rays pushed across three runs in the fourth inning, including a pair of unearned runs against starter Gerrit Cole, and held on to beat the Astros, 3-2, to snap Houston's franchise-record road winning streak at 11 games.

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The loss was just the third for the Astros in 17 games started this year by Cole, who held the Rays to five hits and three runs (one earned) in six innings. Cole (9-2) took his first loss since April 23, snapping a career-long 11-game unbeaten streak. Fifteen of the Astros' 29 losses have been by one run.

"Gerrit was good," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "They just didn't come off his pitches. They didn't chase a ton, they weren't fooled a ton. He made some big pitches to get out of some issues that he had. I don't think three runs were his fault, but it's a tough-luck loss today for him, because he pitched a little better than getting a loss."

Video: HOU@TB: Hinch on defensive miscues in loss to Rays

Cole allowed a pair of singles to start the fourth before Adeiny Hechavarria hit a fly ball to deep center that Jake Marisnick briefly caught, before the ball popped out of his glove as he made contact with the wall for an error. Daniel Robertson scored from third.

"When you play here, you try not to take your eye off the ball with the ceiling up there," Marisnick said. "I kind of glanced quickly at the wall and looked back up and just got a little off track and wasn't able to come down with it. That's a play I need to make 10 out of 10 times."

The Astros had a chance to get out of the inning having only allowed one run, but with speedy Kevin Kiermaier running to first, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez hurried and bounced a two-out relay throw to first baseman AJ Reed, who couldn't scoop it. Two runners scored on the play for a 3-0 lead for the Rays.

"Kind of a weird way to score three runs," Hinch said. "We had plenty of chances late with some action. A couple of mis-hit balls and in a one-run game, you've got to try to create a little bit more, and we didn't have the opportunity."

Alex Bregman's 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot to left-center field in the sixth, cut the lead to 3-2, but the Astros couldn't manage another baserunner against the Rays' bullpen until two outs in the ninth inning. Bregman's homer came on the third pitch thrown by Diego Castillo, who replaced injured starter Wilmer Font four pitches into Bregman's at-bat.

Video: HOU@TB: Bregman drills a solo homer to left-center

Font, who left the game with a strained right lat, didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth. In two previous appearances against the Astros this season while he was with the A's, Font had allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

"It looked like he was making pitches at an angle that was tough to adjust to," Hinch said. "He's big, he's tall, the ball's coming down [at an] angle. It's got some velo and he had a pretty good breaking ball. We had a couple of balls that could have started a few things, but we couldn't get anything started and didn't do much either way."

Video: HOU@TB: Stassi doubles for Astros' 1st hit in the 5th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Reed, who was called up Thursday, was making his first start at first base this season and couldn't come up with Gonzalez's one-hop throw in the fourth on Kiermaier's grounder, allowing two runners to score. Reed was starting in place of Yuli Gurriel, who ranks as the best first baseman in baseball in terms of scooping balls out of the dirt that have bounced on the way to first, according to STATS, Inc. Gurriel is on the paternity list and is expected to return Sunday.

Video: HOU@TB: Wendle, Hechavarria score on an error in 4th

SOUND SMART
Bregman is hitting .345 in his last 14 games with seven doubles, seven homers and 18 RBIs. Eight of his last nine hits have been for extra bases.

HE SAID IT
"It's weird when that happens to you. I just tried to get a good report from our hitting coaches. I got a good one and was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it." -- Bregman, on hitting a homer off Castillo, who replaced Font during his at-bat with a 3-1 count

Video: HOU@TB: Bregman, Hinch talk narrow loss to the Rays

UP NEXT
American League ERA leader Justin Verlander tries to bounce back from a loss when he takes the mound for the Astros in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. CT game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Verlander (9-3, 1.82 ERA) is looking to reach double-digit wins for the 12th time in his career. Ryne Stanek will start for the Rays in a bullpen day.

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, Alex Bregman, Gerrit Cole