Lance McCullers carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and Brian McCann snapped a scoreless tie with a home run in the seventh as the Houston Astros claimed the rubber match of their weekend series with the Cleveland Indians with a 3-1 win on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
McCullers (6-2) breezed before Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis led off the sixth with a single to right field, completing his first five frames on 57 pitches. He leaned on his third pitch, a changeup, in his last outing but found his primary weapon against Cleveland, wielding his knuckle curveball to positive results while recording six strikeouts through three innings.
McCullers did not allow a baserunner to reach scoring position until there were two outs in the seventh when Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso walked in succession. McCullers followed by getting Melky Cabrera to fly out to right field on his 96th pitch, marking his second appearances this season with seven shutout frames. McCullers finished with eight strikeouts.
The Astros fashioned a rally on McCullers’ behalf in the bottom of the seventh, with Yuli Gurriel recording his second hard-hit ball off Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-3) to open the inning. Two batters later, Brian McCann followed the Gurriel single with a home run to the back of the Astros’ bullpen in right-center field, his fourth dinger of the season, finally ending the stalemate.
Before the 410-foot McCann blast, Carrasco found his footing following a wobbly start. Five of the first nine batters Carrasco faced reached base, and when Tony Kemp worked a two-out walk in the second inning, the Astros had the bases loaded for the top of their order.
But Carrasco induced a weak grounder to first off the bat of George Springer, and he followed by allowing just one baserunner against the ensuing 14 batters faced. Carrasco was charged with a third run when Josh Reddick doubled off left-handed reliever Tyler Olson in the eighth.
Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Gurriel each finished 2-for-4. Indians left fielder Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double in the ninth. Right-handers Will Harris, Chris Devenski, and Ken Giles recorded two outs apiece in relief of McCullers, with Giles notching his eighth save.
—Field Level Media