Yuli goes yard to make Verlander victorious

Verlander now 4-0 with Astros
(c) Associated Press

Justin Verlander and Garrett Richards turned Friday night's game at Minute Maid Park into a pitchers duel. After Kole Calhoun led off the game with a double, Verlander pitched seven shutout innings without allowing another hit. Richards, making only his fourth start since returning from a long stint on the disabled list, matched Verlander all the way to the seventh inning stretch.

Richards allowed only one hit and one walk in six innings of work and was taken out of the game at 85 pitches. Yusmeiro Petit came out of the Angels' bullpen and the Astros offense suddenly got back on track.

Jose Altuve led off the Astros' favorite inning with a single. Marwin Gonzales followed Altuve to the plate and was called out by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a pitch that was way outside. Feeling as though he had been victimized by multiple bad strike calls in the at-bat, Marwin drew a line in the dirt to show where he thought the pitch was. Iassogna didn't care for Marwin's antics and immediately ejected Houston's shortstop from the game. A.J. Hinch came out too late to save Gonzalez and was also ejected.

Altuve stole second and Alex Bregman drew a walk. Yuli Gurriel crushed a home run to leftfield, his 18th of the year, and suddenly the Astros were enjoying a 3-0 lead.

Chris Devenski pitched a perfect eighth for the Astros and Ken Giles worked around a hit and a walk to record a scoreless ninth; preserving the shutout and earning his 33rd save.Verlander improved to 14-8 for the year and 4-0 in four starts since joining the Astros.

The two A.L. West rivals face a quick turnaround with the second game of the series scheduled for 12:05 CDT Saturday. Charlie Morton gets the start against former Astro Bud Norris.

- Greg Thurston