Orioles belt six HRs in victory over Astros
BALTIMORE -- Despite a few bumps along the way, the Baltimore Orioles have the type of offense that can erupt at any time.
They are confident that type of power can lead them all the way to the postseason. Another key victory has kept them in the hunt.
Baltimore hit six home runs, including two apiece by J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis, in a 13-5 win over the Houston Astros on Thursday in the opener of a four game series.
Mark Trumbo regained the major-league lead with his career-high 35th homer, while Manny Machado got his 27th of the season.
The Orioles moved into a second-place tie with the Boston Red Sox and trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 1 1/2 games in the American League East. The Astros have lost five in a row.
“It was big,” Hardy said. “We haven’t been swinging the bats all that great, and to bust out like that tonight, hopefully it keeps going and we can keep that confidence.”
Kevin Gausman (4-10) allowed five runs (four earned) and seven hits with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win. Entering the game, the Orioles had averaged only 3.52 runs over his 21 starts -- the fourth-lowest mark in the AL.
“Gausman has always had support,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He may not always have runs scored, but he’s got support every day.”
Hardy moved into second place for homers (101) by a Baltimore shortstop behind Cal Ripken (431). Hyun Soo Kim had a season-high four hits, boosting his average to .329.
“I was never with a team that hits this many home runs,” Kim said. “It is very exciting. I feel just great being part of it.”
Davis homered onto Eutaw Street for the second consecutive night and has 27 on the season. Baltimore managed 18 hits, one shy of a season high.
Rookie second baseman Alex Bregman and A.J. Reed homered for Houston.
The Orioles broke open the game with five runs in the sixth on homers by Hardy, Machado and Davis that pushed their lead to 12-3. After Reed’s two run shot in the seventh cut the margin to 12-5, Davis homered off Houston’s backup first baseman Tyler White, who was making his major-league debut as a pitcher.
Houston’s Joe Musgrove (1-1) gave up eight runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings of his third career start, raising his ERA from 1.47 to 4.18.
“I thought he did battle on a night where he had to stay out there as long as he could with our bullpen,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said of Musgrove. “We ended up throwing a position player so that should tell you where we were with the bullpen. I appreciated his competitiveness. Going home tonight, he’ll want to execute better next time.”
The Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the first when Kim singled, Machado doubled, and two batters later, Trumbo hit a towering homer to left off Musgrove.
“It’s tough but no one’s going to feel sorry for me out there,” Musgrove said. “No one’s going to help me. It’s just me versus them. So I battled, threw everything I had at them. They were just a little better.”
The Astros pulled to within 3-1 the following inning on an RBI single by Reed that scored Evan Gattis, who took second on a throwing error by Machado. It was Machado’s first error since June 5.
Baltimore responded in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones and an RBI single by Kim. The five runs were more than Baltimore had scored in its previous two games combined.
Gattis sparked Houston again in the fourth with a two-out, RBI single that cut the margin to 5-2. The Orioles’ bats, however, remained hot and Hardy delivered a two-run homer that provided a five-run cushion.
NOTES: Orioles RHP Chris Tillman, who has been dealing with some right shoulder discomfort, threw on flat ground Thursday without any issues. This means he should be able to pitch Saturday after having his start pushed back from Wednesday, Showalter said. ... 3B Luis Valbuena (strained right hamstring) could begin a rehab assignment during the Astros’ current seven-game road trip. “He ran a couple of back-to-back days, which is nice,” Hinch said. ... Baltimore RHP Dylan Bundy did not experience any more discomfort after rolling his ankle Wednesday against the Red Sox. Bundy should be able to make his next start, Showalter confirmed.