Monday, June 30, 2014
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Astros hold on for win over Tigers

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[June 30, 2014]  HOUSTON -- An in-game redemptive opportunity spurred Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler to deliver in the ninth inning on Saturday, but the result of his clutch performance left the Houston Astros both embittered and hopeful for their own chance to rebound and produce.

After blowing a pair of late, one-run leads the previous two games, the Astros held on for a 6-4 victory over the Tigers on Sunday at Minute Maid Park to claim the rubber game of the three-game weekend series.

Astros left-hander Tony Sipp struck out the pinch-hitting Kinsler with Nick Castellanos on third base to close a tense eighth inning. Moments earlier, Castellanos, the Tigers' third baseman, smacked a two-run triple off Astros right-hander Jose Veras to score designated hitter Victor Martinez and left fielder J.D. Martinez and cut the deficit to one run.

"One thing is for certain: We've got a strong group of men in that clubhouse," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "They responded today in the way that you would be proud of and I'm proud of them."

The Astros (36-47) added a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when first baseman Jon Singleton delivered a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single to center off left-hander Blaine Hardy after the Tigers (44-34) intentionally walked right fielder George Springer in order to face Singleton. Pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez scored on the base hit.

Detroit executed the same strategy in the sixth inning, intentionally walking Springer to load the bases with two outs. Singleton worked a walk off Patrick McCoy to force in center fielder Alex Presley, ending a string of six consecutive plate appearances concluding with strikeouts.

"Just being resilient," Singleton said. "I still had a job to do. I still had to go out there every inning and perform."

Springer, Astros designated hitter Jesus Guzman and left fielder L.J. Hoes delivered RBIs in the first inning against Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly (4-7) before the Astros reclaimed their three-run lead in the third when Hoes added a run-scoring double that plated third baseman Matt Dominguez, who doubled off Smyly with one out. Smyly departed following his walk of shortstop Jonathan Villar and, before Singleton produced in his final plate appearances, the Detroit bullpen held firm.

"I was sick yesterday. I'm not going to use that as an excuse. It's whatever," said Smyly, who allowed four earned runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out three over 2 1/3 innings.

"I don't want to talk about it and I don't want you to write about it, honestly. It's whatever. I don't know what (Tigers manager) Brad (Ausmus) said, but it had no effect on my (performance)."

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Said Tigers catcher Alex Avila of Smyly: "He was pretty sick yesterday. He was sent back to the hotel. Today he was feeling pretty bad but good enough to pitch, obviously. You know, he battled his butt off and tried to give everything he had today.

"It was unfortunate he left a couple of breaking balls up, and they capitalized."

The Tigers clawed back from a 4-1 deficit with a leadoff home run from Avila in the fifth inning and Castellanos' triple. Avila smacked his fifth homer off Astros right-hander Scott Feldman (4-5), who allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk before departing with Castellanos on first base and no outs in the seventh. Astros left-hander Darin Downs entered and walked Avila but stranded two runners to close that frame.

Sipp retired the Tigers in order in the ninth inning for his first save.

NOTES: With 2B Ian Kinsler given the day off, Tigers CF Austin Jackson hit atop the batting order for the first time in 2014. Prior to this season, Jackson had 2,555 plate appearances as the Tigers' leadoff batter. ... Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel had a soft cast removed from his left wrist and played catch for the first time since being diagnosed with wrist inflammation. Keuchel missed his scheduled start on Saturday. ... Astros CF Dexter Fowler missed a third consecutive game with back tightness.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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