Friday, May 30, 2014
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Springer Homers Again As Astros Win Sixth In Row

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[May 30, 2014]  HOUSTON -- As rookie right fielder George Springer continues his assault on the record book unabated, the Houston Astros continue to supplement his performances with exceptional efforts all around.

Springer cranked his 10th home run this month and teamed with second baseman Jose Altuve to lift the Houston Astros to a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros extended their winning streak to a season-high six games.

After Altuve, who leads the major leagues with 23 multi-hit games, recorded his American League-leading 19th stolen base with one out in the seventh inning, Springer drilled a 3-2 pitch from Orioles right-hander Preston Guilmet (0-1) into the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. The game-winning, two-run blast snapped a 1-1 deadlock.

Springer has seven home runs in his past seven games. The last rookie to pull off that feat was Rudy York of the Detroit Tigers from Aug. 22-27, 1937.

"I was screaming at it," Springer said of the line drive. "I was saying, 'Go, go, go,' and it went, so thank you baseball.

"It was awesome. I was just happy to score (Altuve) from second base. That was pretty much all I was trying to do was get him in. I was able to hit the home run. I was happy."

Altuve finished 3-for-4 with two stolen bases, producing his ninth three-hit game. He leads the majors with 76 hits.

The Astros (23-32) were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position before Springer delivered the two-run blast. Houston finished 1-for-15 with men in scoring position.

Right-hander Chad Qualls picked up his fourth save after right-hander Josh Fields (1-3) recorded three strikeouts in two scoreless innings. The Houston bullpen, maligned and injury-ravaged for the first six weeks of this season, has a 1.22 ERA over its last 16 games dating to May 11.

Baltimore (26-26) fell for the third time in four games to open its 10-game, 11-day road trip.

Scratched from his previous start due to forearm soreness, Astros right-hander Brad Peacock picked up where he left off before the detour. He had 26 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings in May before Thursday, and he added eight to that monthly ledger while delivering another quality start.

Peacock used knee-buckling curveballs for called third strikes against shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado in the second inning, and he fanned four of five Orioles bridging the fourth and fifth innings, including Hardy and Machado again.

Baltimore pulled even at 1-1 when designated hitter Nelson Cruz laced an RBI single to right field in the fourth, scoring left fielder Steve Pearce, who reached on a leadoff double.

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When the Orioles put runners on the corners with two outs in the sixth, Peacock induced a groundout from Hardy to escape danger. That marked the first inning that Baltimore stranded multiple baserunners.

"Definitely the best I felt all year," Peacock said. "I was able to locate anything I wanted for strikes."

The Astros, meanwhile, struggled to get timely hits against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who loaded the bases with two walks and a single in the second inning before uncorking a wild pitch that enabled Jason Castro to score for a 1-0 Houston lead.

Jimenez covered home plate, and after snagging the throw from catcher Nick Hundley, he appeared to tag Castro before the Astros catcher slid in. The subsequent review lasted 4:25, the longest at Minute Maid Park this season. The original ruling that Castro was safe was upheld to the Orioles' dismay.

"Yeah, he's out," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm not sure what they're looking at."

Said Jimenez, who allowed one run on three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over six innings: "I was for sure I had him because his cleat got caught in my glove. He almost made a hole in the glove. That's what I was trying to show the umpire (Mike Muchlinski). He never touched home plate. I had a hole mark from his cleat in my glove."

NOTES: Orioles C Matt Wieters (right elbow strain) will began a soft-toss throwing program Friday. Wieters will do little more than play catch. ... Orioles RHP Tommy Hunter (left groin strain) has thrown on flat ground four times and is progressing without discomfort. He remains on schedule to return June 5. ... Houston will utilize a six-man rotation one trip through the rotation in order to provide RHPs Scott Feldman and Brad Peacock and LHP Dallas Keuchel additional rest. The Astros have a scheduled off day Monday. ... Orioles 3B Manny Machado batted seventh, the first time this season he hit someplace other than second. LF Steve Pearce manned the No. 2 slot.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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