Wilmer Font carried a shutout into the sixth inning before departing with an injury, and the host Tampa Bay Rays took advantage of the Houston Astros’ substitute lineup in a 3-2 victory on Friday at Tropicana Field.
Font (2-3) surrendered just one hit and one walk through five innings before issuing a free pass to Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick leading off the sixth. Then, in the middle of his at-bat with third baseman Alex Bregman, Font suffered a strained right lat and departed leading 3-0.
Right-hander Diego Castillo entered in relief of Font and surrendered a two-run homer to Bregman, with Bregman drilling a 3-2 fastball 414 feet to left-center field that cut the deficit to one. Castillo steadied himself and finished the sixth before returning with a shutdown seventh.
The Astros had their 11-game road winning streak snapped after scuffling offensively for a second consecutive game. Houston rode a solo homer from Marisnick to a 1-0 win in the series opener, but aside from the Bregman blast, his 15th, the Astros failed to muster a threat.
Their lineup was less than full strength. Shortstop Carlos Correa was placed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to June 26) with back soreness while first baseman Yuli Gurriel missed a second consecutive game while on the paternity list for the birth of his son. Outfielder George Springer, mired in a slump, had the day off. Two of the absences played a key role defensively.
While Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-2) lacked his overpowering stuff, he pitched effectively enough until the Rays placed a pair of runners on leading off the fourth inning. Adeiny Hechavarria followed singles by Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle with a fly ball to deep center field that Marisnick initially caught but then dropped following a collision with the wall.
Three batters later and with two outs, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier chopped a grounder to Marwin Gonzalez at short. Gonzalez short-hopped his throw to first baseman AJ Reed, making his first start this season. Reed couldn’t corral the errant throw, allowing Wendle and Hechavarria to score for a 3-0 lead. Gurriel has excelled at scooping throws in the dirt.
Cole allowed one earned run on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six innings.
—Field Level Media