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Fulmer labors, Tigers limited in loss to Astros

Starter allows 7 runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3; McCann's 2B plates lone run
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- For a second consecutive game, the Astros' offense thrived in the early innings and the Tigers' bats remained quiet -- a storyline Detroit can't quite shake.

The Astros gashed starter Michael Fulmer for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, peppering the right-hander with 10 hits and at least one run in four of the first five innings in Saturday's 9-1 loss at Minute Maid Park.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- For a second consecutive game, the Astros' offense thrived in the early innings and the Tigers' bats remained quiet -- a storyline Detroit can't quite shake.

The Astros gashed starter Michael Fulmer for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, peppering the right-hander with 10 hits and at least one run in four of the first five innings in Saturday's 9-1 loss at Minute Maid Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: DET@HOU: Fulmer strikes out Gattis in the 3rd inning

"Overall, I thought my stuff was good," said Fulmer, who also noted he alerted home-plate umpire Pat Hoberg of some strike-zone inconsistencies he found on video following his outing. "I thought my sinker was moving quite a bit. Four-seamer was good, cutting a little bit. I thought my changeup was very good today. My slider was on at times. I was happy with the way my stuff was, just kind of one of those days."

Fulmer was ultimately chased after allowing back-to-back home runs to Josh Reddick and Evan Gattis in the fifth. Reliever Buck Farmer later served up a two-run home run to Tyler White, in the seventh.

Video: DET@HOU: Reddick, Gattis slug back-to-back home runs

The Tigers, meanwhile, had their chances but only one run to show for it.

Astros starter Gerrit Cole, who was activated from the bereavement list to make Saturday's start, wrestled with a high pitch count and four walks through 5 2/3 innings, putting a good amount of Tigers on base before the Astros (64-34) went to their bullpen in the sixth.

"We made him throw pitches," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said of Cole, who threw 107. "We made him go deep in the count, stayed off some really tough pitches. We got his pitch count up there like you try to do with great pitchers. I thought we worked him really well."

Detroit, however, stranded seven runners and was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, squandering any chance to threaten the defending World Series champions. Catcher James McCann knocked in the Tigers' only run with a two-out RBI double in the sixth, snapping a 19-inning scoreless streak for the Tigers.

"Today we got beat," McCann said.

The Tigers (40-57) have lost 14 of their past 16 road games and are 15-34 on the road this season.

"We're playing against a team right now that's better than us," said Gardenhire. "We're competing pretty hard. But right now, they're playing very well with a lot of really good players. You have to tip your hat a little bit."

Video: DET@HOU: Candelario sprints for a backhanded grab

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The arm of Victor Reyes was on display in the second inning. Following an RBI double that put runners on second and third with one out, George Springer was aggressively waved home on an RBI single to left field from Alex Bregman. Springer attempted to leap around the tag at home to score a second run on the play, but Reyes' throw was a dart and beat Springer home with ease.

Video: DET@HOU: Reyes' strong throw gets Springer at plate

"He can throw the ball," Gardenhire said. "He's got a good arm. He's a good defender, no matter where you put him."

SOUND SMART
Detroit has lost 10 of its last 13 games at Minute Maid Park, dating back to the 2014 season.

HE SAID IT
"Both pitchers had to work. Both pitchers had to throw a lot of pitches. It was tough around the zone. They didn't kill our guy at all. They got some bloops in, got some hits. That's a good team over there. They put balls in play. … When you get behind this pitching staff, it's a pretty tough go. -- Gardenhire, on both pitchers' rising pitch counts

"We talked going into this series, we wanted to put pressure on them like we do every series. But when we get going like that, we keep coming at you and it changes the whole psyche of the pitcher. He's got to speed up a little bit, do a little bit extra, and if he makes a mistake, we hit the ball out of the ballpark. Really a complete offense." -- Astros manager AJ Hinch

UP NEXT
Back at Minute Maid Park for the first time since pitching for the Astros in the 2017 Fall Classic, Francisco Liriano will start as the season's first half concludes with the 2:10 p.m. ET series finale Sunday against Houston, which presented Liriano with his World Series ring before Saturday's game. Justin Verlander, meanwhile, will face the Tigers for the first time since being traded to Houston last August.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer