Lance McCullers carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and the Houston Astros parlayed a four-run third inning into a 6-4 win over the San Francisco Giants Monday at Minute Maid Park.
McCullers (2-1), roughed up for a career-high-tying eight runs in his previous start, pitched effectively and efficiently. He induced 13 ground-ball outs while throwing 59 of his 86 pitches for strikes. The utilization of his repertoire — sinkers, knuckle curveballs and changeups — kept the Giants flummoxed, despite McCullers recording just 10 swinging strikes on the night.
It wasn’t until Giants third baseman Donovan Solano roped a one-out double just under the glove of third baseman Alex Bregman in the seventh that McCullers surrendered a hit. Solano, who endured a difficult night in the field, extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. McCullers recovered to retire Brandon Belt and Wilmer Flores to cap his sterling outing. He did not issue a walk and allowed just one other baserunner, plunking Austin Slater to open the third.
The Astros snapped a five-game losing skid by taking advantage of the Giants’ ragged defense.
Leading 1-0 courtesy of an opposite-field, run-scoring single by Carlos Correa in the second, the Astros had four consecutive baserunners reach with one out in the third against Giants right-hander Logan Webb (1-1). Michael Brantley delivered the biggest swing of the frame with his bloop two-run double that landed just inside the left-field line and scored Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick, who reached base via an interference call on Giants catcher Chadwick Tromp.
Bregman, who walked to push Reddick into scoring position, later scored on a fielder’s choice grounder to Solano, whose errant throw home handcuffed Tromp and upped the Houston lead to 4-0. Brantley scored the fourth run when Correa beat out another fielder’s choice ground ball.
Slater smacked his third home run in the eighth off Astros reliever Josh James. The Giants, who brought the go-ahead run to the plate with two outs in the ninth, fell to 2-6 on their current 10-game road trip and have dropped six consecutive games in Houston.
–Field Level Media