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Big flies back Morton, secure Astros' series win

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The Astros' starting pitching has been as good as advertised through the first 10 games of the season, which was much needed against a Padres pitching staff that held them in check for most of the weekend series at Minute Maid Park.

Astros starter Charlie Morton dominated the Padres for six innings Sunday afternoon, allowing one unearned run while striking out seven. He also had help from batterymate Max Stassi, who socked a three-run homer that was the difference in a 4-1 win over the Padres.

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HOUSTON -- The Astros' starting pitching has been as good as advertised through the first 10 games of the season, which was much needed against a Padres pitching staff that held them in check for most of the weekend series at Minute Maid Park.

Astros starter Charlie Morton dominated the Padres for six innings Sunday afternoon, allowing one unearned run while striking out seven. He also had help from batterymate Max Stassi, who socked a three-run homer that was the difference in a 4-1 win over the Padres.

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Behind Morton (2-0), Astros' starters have a 1.83 ERA through 10 games. "I think my fastball was pretty effective and [my] curveball," Morton said. "I think Stassi did a good job back there, and obviously him coming through with a huge at-bat, I'm happy for him. He played a great game."

Video: SD@HOU: Hinch on Morton's strong outing in 4-1 win

Padres starter Tyson Ross (1-1) set down 12 of the first 13 batters he faced before the Astros took a 3-0 lead in the fifth on the three-run homer by Stassi. Josh Reddick's third homer of the season an inning later pushed Houston's lead to 4-1 against Ross, who also struck out seven in six innings.

"You always want to contribute to the team's win, and it felt good," Stassi said. "We haven't been swinging the bats like we normally can, but that's baseball. This stuff kind of happens, and I know for sure we'll turn it around real quick."

The Astros (8-2), who have tied the 1972 club's record for its best start through 10 games, hit just .174 in the three-game series against San Diego, with the only extra-base hits coming on the homers by Stassi and Reddick.

"We didn't do a lot this series, offensively, but we did enough to win the series," Astros manager AJ Hinch. "So I think you can't complain too much about how you win as long as you win. It wasn't our best series offensively, but that was a big swing on a day we didn't have a ton going. Any opportunity we had was really just that inning, and we took care of it with two big swings with Stassi and Reddick."

Video: SD@HOU: Reddick hits a solo homer to right field

The Padres had a pair of runners on base in the second and fourth innings and couldn't capitalize. Morton worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, allowing only a run on a Austin Hedges fielder's choice, and left the game after throwing 101 pitches. He hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 innings across two starts this year.

"He has such elite stuff across the board that he can go to different pitches," Hinch said. "Today it was the breaking ball. Last week, he threw a few more splits or changeups or whatever. He's got a lot of weapons in his arsenal. I know he lost his command late in his outing as he started to get a little more fatigued. All in all, it was a really good outing by Charlie."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Extra effort: Padres pitching held the Astros without an extra-base hit in the first two games of the series and through four innings on Sunday. Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez led off the fifth with consecutive singles before Stassi sent a towering home run to left field -- his first of the season -- one out later to put the Astros ahead, 3-0.

Video: SD@HOU: Stassi opens the scoring with three-run homer

"I was just trying to elevate something there," Stassi said. "He's got a good slider, and he's really effective down in the zone. I was trying to see it up and got the pitch I wanted and didn't miss it."

Can't go home again: The Astros cut down a run at the plate in the fifth inning when Padres outfielder Manuel Margot, who was running on contact, tried to score from third on a grounder off the bat of Eric Hosmer. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa fielded the ball and threw to Stassi, who tagged out Margot to keep the Padres off the board. The ball was hit at 105 mph, and according to Statcast™, it was the hardest-hit ball of the game.

Video: SD@HOU: Correa throws out Margot at home plate

"I didn't really want to give him something to drive," Morton said. "I think I did give him something. You just get him to be looking for something else. He hit it hard. He hit it on the ground, though. It worked out. Good play for C.C."

QUOTABLE
"I don't know what the end of game means to you, but to me when we're winning, you're going to see him a lot" -- Hinch, on reliever Brad Peacock, who recorded his first career regular-season save by throwing a scoreless ninth

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The temperature at first pitch was 52 degrees, making it the coldest regular-season game in Astros history.

Video: SD@HOU: Peacock strikes out Margot to earn the save

SPRINGER LEAVES GAME
Hinch said he expects George Springer to start at designated hitter Monday against the Twins. He left Sunday's game after six innings after complaining of leg soreness. Hinch admitted postgame that he should have left Springer in the game, but replacing Springer with an elite defensive center fielder like Jake Marisnick made it an easier decision. Springer was hobbled beating out an infield hit in the fifth inning.

WHAT'S NEXT
Right-hander Justin Verlander (1-0, 2.31 ERA) makes his third start of the season when the Astros open a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. CT Monday at Target Field. In seven regular-season starts with the Astros, Verlander is 6-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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

Charlie Morton, Josh Reddick, Max Stassi