Britton sets record for consecutive saves
(c) Associated Press
The Astros were unable to finish off a season sweep of the Orioles, falling 9-7 to the Birds Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. Lance McCullers suffered through his fourth consecutive rough outing, giving up nine hits and six runs in only 4-2/3 innings pitched. Lance clearly didn't have his command, as he issued three walks, hit two batters, and uncorked a wild pitch.
McCullers used a double-play grounder to get out of trouble in the first but his wildness helped the Orioles score three runs in the second despite grounding into another twin-killing.
The Astros answered with three runs of their own in the following half-inning. After a ground rule double off the bat of Norichika Aoki and a bunt single by Jake Marisnick, Jose Altuve smacked a 3-run homer to left off Dylan Bundy.
The Orioles scored another run off McCullers in the third and Trey Mancini's RBI double in the fifth sent Lance to the showers trailing 6-3.
The Astros offense continued to fire on all cylinders, putting a 4-spot on the scoreboard in the sixth inning to take the lead. Aoki launched a ball down the rightfield line for a 3-run homer to tie it and Marisnick scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Josh Reddick.
But the bullpen couldn't hold the slim 1-run lead. Mark Trumbo took Chris Devenski deep to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Once the Astros' most dependable reliever, Devo has given up a home run in each of hist last three appearances.
Luke Gregerson continued the parade of less-than-stellar outings by Houston pitchers when he entered the game in the eighth. Gregerson surrendered two runs on three hits and was tagged for his third loss of the season.
Zach Britton, who is rumored to be on the trade block and drawing interest from several teams including the Astros, got the final three outs to convert his American League record 55th consecutive save.
Jose Altuve continued to do Altuve things, extending his longest career hitting streak to 15 games with the home run that was part of a 4-hit performance raising his league-leading batting average to .358.
The Astros, still enjoying a comfortable lead in the A.L. West standings, now travel to Philadelphia for a 3-game set with the Phillies under National League rules. Brad Peacock gets the start in Monday's 6:05 CDT opener. Former Astro Vincent Velasquez will be on the mound for the Phils.
Injury Update: Colin Moran suffered facial fractures Friday night when he was struck by a foul ball. Moran is likely to undergo surgery and he will probably miss a significant amount of time. Tyler White has been recalled from AAA Fresno to take the roster spot.
- Greg Thurston