- Associated Press - Friday, July 10, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - After starting the season by winning 18 of their first 25 games, the Houston Astros find themselves struggling as the All-Star break approaches.

The Astros lost their third straight on Thursday night, falling 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians. After scoring nine runs on Monday, Houston managed only three the remainder of the four-game series.

“They held us down and we didn’t do much offensively after the first night. Their pitching handled us in this series,” manager A.J. Hinch said.

Even more of a concern for the Astros is the fact they are 31-32 since May 3 and 2-5 on a 10-game road trip that continues Friday at Tampa Bay. Houston has led the AL West since April 19 but finds its advantage down to 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels.

“We’re running through a tough patch right now, but their pitchers did a good job as far as containing us and moving the ball around,” said catcher Hank Conger, who homered leading off the third inning. “Our pitchers are doing an outstanding job as far as keeping us within a couple of runs. We’re going up there and trying to have productive at-bats.”

Brett Oberholtzer (2-2) took a shutout into the sixth before Cleveland scored three times. Touted rookie Francisco Lindor tied the game with a leadoff homer. Ryan Raburn’s RBI double put the Indians ahead, and Carlos Santana’s triple made it 3-1.

Lindor’s homer barely cleared the 19-foot wall in left field. Michael Brantley doubled and scored on Raburn’s double. Santana’s drive to deep center caromed off the wall and rolled away, allowing Santana to reach third as Raburn scored.

“I told myself to get the first guy and it didn’t work out,” Oberholtzer said about Lindor’s home run. “I tried to throw a fastball in and sneak one by him. They got some momentum going after that.”

Oberholtzer, recalled from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, was sent to the minors after giving up six runs in 1 1-3 innings against the New York Yankees on June 27. He allowed two homers and was ejected for throwing at Alex Rodriguez.

Cleveland rookie Cody Anderson (2-1) gave up only three hits in 6 2-3 innings with two walks and one strikeout. The right-hander has given up three earned runs in 30 1-3 innings for a 0.89 ERA since being called up from Triple-A Columbus on June 21.

Cody Allen allowed a single and a walk in the ninth, but retired Evan Gattis on a popup for his 18th save.

RARE SLUMP

The Astros rank third in the American League in runs with 391. This marks the third time all season they have scored two or fewer in three straight games. The first time was in the opening series against the Indians, and then June 4-6 against the Orioles and Blue Jays.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Chad Qualls (pinched nerve in neck) allowed one run and threw 14 pitches in two-thirds of an inning at Double-A Corpus Christi on a rehab assignment.

Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin, who had shoulder surgery in March, will begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron on Friday. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Collin McHugh goes for his 10th win of the season Friday. He originally was scheduled to start Thursday, but was pushed back a day.

Indians: RHP Danny Salazar makes his first career start against Oakland on Friday at Progressive Field. He is 3-1 in six home starts this season.


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