August 28, 2019 / 3:44 AM / 20 days ago

Verlander wins showdown with Morton in Astros win

EditorsNote: Fixed Alvarez stats in 8th graf, fixed Roe’s earned runs in 9th graf, minor edits throughout

Aug 27, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Alex Bregman (2) takes batting practice prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander carried a shutout into the sixth inning before being ejected as the host Houston Astros pounded the Tampa Bay Rays 15-1 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

Verlander (16-5) had his streak of starts with double-digit strikeouts snapped at seven, one shy of the major league record held by Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale. Verlander recorded four strikeouts while allowing four hits over 5 1/3 innings, but was ejected upon arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Pat Hoberg after Tommy Pham doubled to center field in the sixth.

Verlander’s ejection put a bow on a ballyhooed pitching matchup between him and Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, who entered Tuesday ranked second and third in the American League in ERA, respectively.

Morton (13-6), the hero of the Astros’ Game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, scuffled in his first appearance in Houston following his offseason signing with Tampa Bay.

The right-hander faced the minimum through two innings, but started to come undone in the third when nine-hole hitter Josh Reddick followed consecutive walks to Abraham Toro and Robinson Chirinos that opened the inning with an RBI double to right-center. Two batters later, Jose Altuve plated Chirinos with a sacrifice fly to center that doubled the Houston lead to 2-0.

Five of the first six batters reached safely for Houston in the fourth, with Yuli Gurriel delivering a two-run double that scored Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez two batters before Chirinos drove in Gurriel with a two-run home run to left. Chirinos’ 15th homer extended the lead to 6-0.

Morton allowed a season-high six earned runs while matching his season low of four innings pitched. He surrendered seven hits and issued two walks while recording just four strikeouts.

Alvarez (3-for-5, four RBIs) posted the fourth multi-homer game of his rookie season, cranking a three-run, opposite-field shot in the fifth off Rays right-hander Andrew Kittredge that upped the lead to 9-0. Alvarez then belted his 21st homer to right in the seventh, a solo shot against utility man Michael Brosseau.

Houston scored five runs (three earned) off Rays right-hander Chaz Roe in the sixth and won for the eighth time in nine games to improve to a season-best 39 games over .500.

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