Astros crush Orioles for second straight game
BALTIMORE -- The Houston Astros continued to show the Baltimore Orioles that they have a fearsome lineup of their own.
And when they have dominant pitching, the Astros can be tough to beat.
Mike Fiers shut down the Baltimore Orioles’ dominant hitters, while rookie Alex Bregman, George Springer and Jason Castro each homered, leading Houston to a 12-2 victory Saturday night.
The Astros, who mustered 14 hits, can take the four-game series with a victory Sunday. The fading Orioles dropped four of five and have gone 9-15 over their past 24 games.
“That was a good offensive night for us from the very beginning,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We had numerous chances we didn’t even take advantage of. We continue to get contributions from the top of the lineup, bottom of the lineup, middle of the lineup. It’s a fun offense when we get going,”
Fiers (9-6) put together an effective outing after struggling over his past two starts when he allowed nine runs, including five homers, over 9 2/3 innings. He was much better when staked to a big lead against Baltimore and gave up one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and a walk over a season-tying high seven innings.
“We need to get rolling here and put a bunch of wins together,” Fiers said. “We know it’s going to come down to the end. And one game could be the difference like it was last year. We need to start putting these games together and do it like we’ve done in the past -- win more than we lose.”
The Orioles’ Chris Davis hit his fifth home run in the past four games and has 29 on the season. It was the second time this year that Davis homered in at least four consecutive games.
Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman (15-5) made the start after being pushed back earlier in the week because of right shoulder discomfort. He never appeared comfortable on the mound and struggled early. Tillman was charged with six runs on six hits with five walks in two innings.
“I couldn’t command the baseball,” Tillman said. “It was definitely rusty, definitely not where I wanted to be with any of my pitches. That’s a pretty good lineup to try and go out there and wing it on. You’ve got to be better than that with them.”
Steve Pearce’s first homer since returning to the team at the trade deadline provided Baltimore’s second run in the eighth. Pearce has 11 home runs on the season.
The Orioles were forced to use infielder Ryan Flaherty as a pitcher in the ninth and he gave up the home run to Castro and an RBI double to Bregman that gave the Astros a 12-2 lead.
The Orioles’ pitchers walked a season-high 10 batters.
Bregman gave the Astros an early lead when he launched a two-run homer on a fastball by Tillman in the first. The highly touted rookie has been impressive throughout the series, recording a season-high three hits the previous night.
“We’ve been able to do that the last two days,” Bregman said. “Doesn’t matter to me where I hit. I think we’re getting into a little bit of a groove offensively, Hope we can keep it up tomorrow.”
Houston added to the lead in second when Teoscar Hernandez earned a leadoff walk and Castro followed with an RBI double. Castro is 4 for 13 lifetime against Tillman with three doubles and a homer. A swinging bunt single down the third base line by Jose Altuve later that inning provided a 4-0 lead.
Tillman’s night ended in the third when he hit Evan Gattis and walked three straight batters to give the Astros a 5-0 lead. Odrisamer Despaigne entered and got Tony Kemp to hit into a double play, but it scored A.J. Reed with Houston’s sixth run.
“It’s tough when you’re getting beat on early on,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You’re trying to stay away from the certain mentality that can challenge anybody in any walk of life.”
The Orioles finally got on the board with the solo homer by Davis in the fourth. Springer answered an inning later with a two-run shot that pushed the lead to 8-1. Springer has 25 home runs this season.
NOTES: Orioles C Matt Wieters was placed on paternity leave Saturday. He has the option of being away for a maximum of three days. In a corresponding move, C Francisco Pena was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to serve as the backup to Caleb Joseph. In nine games with Baltimore earlier this season, Pena went 7-for-32. ... Houston 3B Luis Valbuena (strained right hamstring) had a setback while working out at Camden Yards and was sent back to Houston to be re-evaluated by team doctors. The plan had been for Valbuena to begin a rehab assignment during the Astros current seven-game road trip. ... RHP Odrisamer Despaigne was recalled by Baltimore from Triple-A Norfolk after RHP Tyler Wilson was sent down to the Tides. Despaigne is 1-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 starts with Norfolk. He is 0-2 with a 4.81 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Baltimore this season.