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Gurriel, Astros strike early, hold off O's charge

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Yuli Gurriel had a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer, and the Astros held off a furious ninth-inning rally by the Orioles in Friday's 8-7 series-opening win at Camden Yards. The Astros, winners of seven straight against Baltimore, improved their American League-best record to 64-32.

Down 8-2, Baltimore made a valiant comeback attempt, with Adam Jones doubling in a pair of ninth-inning runs with one out. Two batters later, Jonathan Schoop -- who drove in Baltimore's first run -- hit a three-run homer off reliever Chris Devenski to bring the O's within one. But Astros closer Ken Giles was able to strike out Mark Trumbo to pick up the save and secure the win.

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BALTIMORE -- Yuli Gurriel had a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer, and the Astros held off a furious ninth-inning rally by the Orioles in Friday's 8-7 series-opening win at Camden Yards. The Astros, winners of seven straight against Baltimore, improved their American League-best record to 64-32.

Down 8-2, Baltimore made a valiant comeback attempt, with Adam Jones doubling in a pair of ninth-inning runs with one out. Two batters later, Jonathan Schoop -- who drove in Baltimore's first run -- hit a three-run homer off reliever Chris Devenski to bring the O's within one. But Astros closer Ken Giles was able to strike out Mark Trumbo to pick up the save and secure the win.

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"It was a mess of an inning just from the beginning. They obviously put some good at-bats together," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It can happen fast in this park. We got a couple matchups that we liked with Devenski on Schoop and [Chris Davis] and ultimately Giles on Trumbo. I didn't want to use Devenski or Giles at all, but it is what it is with the game. So all's well that ends well with a win, albeit a stressful one at the end."

Video: HOU@BAL: Giles strikes out Trumbo to save the game

Paced by a terrific seven innings by starter Mike Fiers, who held the O's to one run on Schoop's RBI bloop single in the third, the Astros also received homers from Brian McCann and Colin Moran.

Moran's eighth-inning blast off O's reliever Richard Bleier marked his first career Major League homer. He also tripled in a run in a two-run second inning, with Jose Altuve driving in the other.

"It was fun, obviously, but just trying to get a good pitch and got one over the plate," Moran said. "Obviously, it was a good team win. I came to this ballpark a lot as a kid, so it's definitely pretty special to play here in the big leagues."

Video: HOU@BAL: Moran hits towering shot for his first homer

Baltimore, fresh off a four-game sweep over Texas to move into Wild Card striking distance, has been unable to find a way to beat Houston. The O's (46-50) have lost 10 of their last 11 matchups against the Astros, with the weekend set coming at a critical time in determining Baltimore's non-waiver Trade Deadline plans.

"We strung together some good at-bats," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm real proud of [Hyun Soo Kim]. He comes off the bench not seeing much playing time and hits a changeup down the left-field line, the only place you can hit a pitch like that. Their bullpen's been pretty good, too. That's a good baseball team. We came within a swing of tying it up."

Video: HOU@BAL: Orioles' five-run rally falls short in 9th

Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing six runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The righty, in a 3-0 hole after the first, suffered his sixth loss of the season and saw his ERA rise to 7.19 in the process.

Ubaldo's struggles coming at bad time for O's

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gurriel sets the tone early: After Carlos Beltran's RBI single put Houston on the board, Gurriel put just enough on Jimenez's 1-1 slider to clear the left-field wall for his 12th home run of the season. Gurriel added two singles and a double and finished his night 4-for-5.

"When he gets going and gets pitches to hit, he does a great job of using the whole field," Hinch said. "... He's truly a really, really good professional hitter. And the more comfortable he gets and the more he sees the league, the better he's getting."

Video: HOU@BAL: Gurriel gets four hits, jacks two-run homer

Fiers away: The Orioles started to gain some momentum in the third inning after Schoop's blooper fell in and gave the O's runners at the corners trailing, 5-1. But Fiers struck out Davis to end the threat, one of nine K's for the Astros' righty, who is 7-4 with a 3.59 ERA on the season.

"I thought he was really good," Hinch said. "His fastball was really good and oftentimes we talk about his curveball, and he threw a few of them tonight, but most of it was about his fastball. His command, his control inside the strike zone, he was pretty much in control the whole time. I thought he stayed away from predictable counts with them." More >

Video: HOU@BAL: Fiers fans nine over seven stellar innings

QUOTABLE
"Honestly, after the first couple of pitches, I just felt like I wasn't really seeing the ball well. … I thought, if I can get it down over there, and keep it fair, I've got a chance and then we have a chance to win the game. I know it's easy to sit back and say, 'Well, you could have hit a home run.' But, you know, lately it's been pretty much feast or famine. I thought it was an aggressive move, obviously. I felt like that was my best shot in that at-bat." -- Davis, on his decision to bunt after Schoop's homer, which resulted in the second out in the ninth

"Well, I think the [radar] gun was a little hot today. The gun was hot. I'm not buying [that I threw 94 mph]. Maybe, who knows? A lot of the guys were yelling at me when I came in once I hit 94 [mph], but it might be off." -- Fiers, on his increase in velocity

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
McCann's home run in the sixth inning gave him sole possession of ninth place all time in home runs hit by a catcher with 244.

Video: HOU@BAL: McCann adds to Astros' lead with solo homer

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Collin McHugh will make his 2017 debut Saturday. The righty has missed all of the Astros' games this season with a posterior impingement in his throwing elbow. In McHugh's last start against the Orioles last year, he allowed four first-inning homers in a game the Astros rallied to win, 15-8. He has a 6.18 career ERA against Baltimore. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT.

Orioles: The Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the hill for the 7:05 p.m. ET contest at Camden Yards. Tillman is coming off his first quality start since June 4 and just his third of the season. On Monday against the Rangers, the righty went six innings and allowed just one run on two hits.

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Friday.

Mike Fiers, Yuli Gurriel, Ubaldo Jimenez, Colin Moran