For a second consecutive game, the Astros fashioned a two-run
rally in the seventh inning, this time parlaying back-to-back
run-scoring doubles from Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Villar into a
2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night at Minute
Handcuffed for six innings by Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez,
the Astros (24-32) extended their winning streak to seven games by
stringing together four hits in the seventh inning. Even with a pair
of baserunning blunders, the Astros eased a 1-0 deficit, with right
fielder Grossman doubling over the outstretched glove of Orioles
left fielder Steve Pearce with two outs and third baseman Matt
Dominguez stationed on third.
Shortstop Villar followed with a ground-rule double to right-center
field, snapping an 0-for-26 skid and chasing Gonzalez (3-4) in the
"Extremely happy for him and Grossman," Porter said of Villar. "Both
of them have been kind of scuffling, and for them to be the two
offensive heroes tonight, it definitely feels good. I'm sure they
both feel good about it as well. They've been working extremely hard
and to be able to come through for the team tonight, especially with
two outs and after a poor baserunning decision, to pick the team up,
that's what teamwork is all about."
Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (2-6) allowed one run on four
hits with one strikeout over seven stellar innings. He tossed just
81 pitches before ceding the mound to his red-hot bullpen, with Kyle
Farnsworth and Tony Sipp holding the line before closer Chad Qualls
capped the victory over Baltimore (26-27) with a four-out save, his
Gonzalez, who allowed exactly two earned runs in each of his
previous three starts, was razor sharp from the outset, retiring the
first eight batters he faced before walking Villar with two outs in
the third inning.
That misstep hardly slowed Gonzalez, who rallied to induce an
inning-ending ground ball from Astros shortstop Jose Altuve. That
initiated a string in which he retired eight of the next nine
batters, a stretch only interrupted when he hit catcher Jason Castro
with a pitch in the fourth.
Gonzalez had yet to allow a hit by the time Altuve came to the plate
with two outs in the sixth, and Altuve ended the drama by just
beating the throw from shortstop J.J. Hardy for an infield hit.
Altuve followed with his American League-leading 20th stolen base,
but Gonzalez recovered to strike out right fielder George Springer
before getting Castro to fly out.
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"I was thinking about it," Gonzalez said of his no-hit bid. "They
were hitting the ball pretty good (but) we got a couple outs, we
made (a) couple of nice plays ... when we needed to.
"I was working pretty well."
Oberholtzer was a worthy adversary, recording 12 groundball outs to
keep the slumping Orioles scuffling. Baltimore strung two hits
together in the second inning, the latter a single to left from
Hardy that enabled Adam Jones, who doubled to open the frame, to
score with ease.
But the Orioles did not muster much of a threat beyond that frame.
"I think we've scored five runs in the last three games," Orioles
manager Buck Showalter said. "You tip your cap to the other pitcher,
but we're capable of better."
NOTES: Setting the backdrop for the eighth annual Civil Rights Game,
the Astros wore the Negro League uniforms of the Houston Eagles
(1949-50), and the Orioles donned those of the Baltimore Elite
Giants (1938-50). ... Orioles C Matt Wieters made 25 throws from 75
feet on Friday, the first step in his return from a right elbow
strain that landed him on the 15-day disabled list May 11. Wieters
last played May 10 and last caught May 4. ... By belting his 10th
home run of the month on Thursday night, Astros RF George Springer
became the first rookie to reach double digits in home runs in May
since Oakland 1B Mark McGwire hit 15 homers in May 1987.
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