DETROIT (AP) — Alex Bregman homered, hit two doubles and drove in four runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 9-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
Bregman drove in Jose Altuve in the first, fifth and sixth innings and scored in the fifth, sixth and eighth. Jose Abreu and Chas McCormick each drove in a pair of runs.
“That was a really big night for Alex, because we know he’s always been a second-half player and we’re starting to see that,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “His OPS is always a lot higher in the second half, and he’s already got his average back over .260. Hopefully, .270 is the next stop.”
Hunter Brown (10-9) allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out nine, one short of his season-high set on May 26 against Oakland. Tigers batters struck out 15 times.
“I made a couple adjustments in the stretch and in my windup, and I felt really good with both of them tonight,” said Brown, who allowed six runs to the Mariners without getting out of the third in his last start. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for a little while, but there was more urgency after the Seattle outing.”
With the win, the Astros held onto third place behind Texas and leading Tampa Bay in the race for an AL wild-card spot.
Eduardo Rodriguez (9-7) took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.
“If you don’t have location, they are going to make you pay for it, and that’s what happened tonight,” he said. “They aren’t going to miss pitches down the middle.”
Unlike Friday’s game, when the teams combined for two singles in the first eight innings, the Astros and Tigers produced some early offense on Saturday.
Houston took the lead in the first when Altuve led off with a single and scored on Bregman’s double. However, the Astros left runners on the corners when Yanier Diaz popped out. In the second, Yordan Alvarez popped out to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Detroit took advantage when Kerry Carpenter singled with one out in the fourth, stole second and scored on Parker Meadows’ RBI single off Altuve’s glove.
Altuve walked to start the fifth and Bregman made it 3-1 with a 381-foot line drive homer over the Tigers bullpen.
Will Vest came out of the bullpen with two on and two out later in the inning, and allowed an RBI single to Diaz.
The Tigers made it 4-2 on Riley Greene’s sacrifice fly in their half of the fifth, but Altuve and Bregman teamed up in the sixth, hitting back-to-back doubles to put Houston up 5-2. Andrew Vasquez replaced Vest and gave up an RBI single to Abreu.
Houston added three runs in the eighth to increase its lead to the final 9-2 margin.
“We didn’t control the strike zone, and it got worse as the game went on,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think they had 10 at-bats where they didn’t have to hit the ball to get on, and I think we had 15 (strikeouts).
“They are too good to keep giving them opportunities like that.”
Meadows added to his list of firsts on Saturday, although a stolen base isn’t quite as exciting as the homer-stealing catch and walk-off home run from Friday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first player since at least 1920 to have a game-ending three-run homer or grand slam as a first career home run.
Brown, a Detroit native, had a large cheering section seated behind the Houston dugout. He turns 25 on Tuesday.
The teams finish their series on Sunday, with RHP Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.19) starting for Houston against RHP Alex Faedo (2-4, 4.91). Verlander was Detroit’s first-round pick in 2004, 13 years before they selected Faedo in the same round.
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