- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Astros became baseball’s biggest surprise this season with solid play and a little luck.

For the most part, the breaks have gone their way.

On Wednesday night, they didn’t make enough happen.

Reliever Joe Thatcher gave up David Murphy’s tie-breaking, two-run double in the eighth inning and the AL West-leading Astros lost their second straight, 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians.

Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer - connecting on a pitch near his eyes - in the first inning off Trevor Bauer (8-5), but Houston’s hitters didn’t do much more against the quirky right-hander, who allowed six hits in eight innings and improved to 3-0 in his career against the Astros.

With the score tied 2-2, Murphy, who came in 3-for-9 vs. left-handers this season, pulled a pitch from lefty Thatcher (1-3) over right fielder Preston’s Tucker’s head, scoring rookie Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley.

“It was a difficult night,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Usually in a close game like this it’s one big hit. It’s one big pitch. It’s one big defensive play. We saw a little bit of everything from both sides. They ended up having the big hit when they needed it the most.”

Cody Allen worked the ninth for his 17th save for the Indians, who have won two straight at home for just the second time this season.

Lindor doubled off Thatcher with one out in the seventh, barely beating left fielder Colby Rasmus’ throw to second with a head-first slide. Thatcher then walked Brantley and Murphy, a Houston native batting .368 in his last 49 games, came through with his clutch double - ripping a fastball.

“That’s what happens when you don’t make pitches,” Thatcher said. “Murphy put a good swing on the ball. It happens.”

Bauer had nine strikeouts, giving him 102 this season. According to information provided by the Indians, they are the first team in history to have four pitchers reach 100 strikeouts before the All-Star break. Corey Kluber (148) leads the AL and Carlos Carrasco (115) and Danny Salazar (108) have also topped the century mark.

Houston starter Dan Straily gave up two runs and three hits in six innings but didn’t get any run support.

“He definitely put us a position to break through and win the game, but we’ve got nothing to show for it,” Hinch said.

Bauer, who held Houston without a hit for six innings in his season debut, came in with a 0.00 ERA in two career appearances against the Astros.

Houston changed that in a hurry as Gattis hit his 15th homer. Jose Altuve singled leading off, moved up on a wild pitch and stole third. With two outs, Gattis crushed an eye-high fastball from Bauer, driving it over the wall in left and onto the pedestrian plaza.

“I love Gattis,” Bauer said. “His approach is awesome. I threw a fastball up and it was two feet out of the strike zone. So what are you going to do? It’s great. I love baseball for that reason, because stuff like that happens.”


Gattis has 53 RBIs, topping the 52 he had last season. He drove in a career-high 65 in 2013.


The Astros are shuffling their rotation going into the All-Star break to give their young starters as much rest as possible. Rookie Vince Velasquez was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday and will rejoin the rotation following the break.

Lefty Brett Oberholtzer will be recalled from Triple-A Fresno to start the series finale Thursday, bumping Collin McHugh back to Friday in Tampa Bay. All-Star Dallas Keuchel will take his normal turn Saturday while rookie Lance McCullers will start Sunday.


Astros: 3B Luis Valbuena (sprained big toe) was not in the starting lineup for the third day in a row. He took grounders and was available for pinch-hitting duties, and manager A.J. Hinch said it’s possible the team’s home run leader will play in Thursday’s series finale.


Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer will be recalled from Triple-A Fresno to start the last game between the teams this season. He lasted just 1 1-3 innings in his previous start before he was ejected for throwing inside on Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. Oberholtzer was optioned to the minors following the June 27 game.

Indians: RHP Cody Anderson has been impressive in his first three starts, pitching at least 7 2-3 innings in each outing. He suffered his first loss last weekend in Pittsburgh despite allowing just six hits in eight innings.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide