- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Patrick Corbin escaped the first inning without allowing a run despite laboring.

That inning threw him off for the rest of the game, leading to his shortest outing of the season.

Corbin lost grip of his mechanics after a 24-pitch first inning and never recovered, setting up the Arizona Diamondbacks for an 8-5 loss the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

“You throw a bunch of pitches in the first inning and then I came back out and mechanically felt a little bit off,” said Corbin, who allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. “Everything wasn’t in synch.”

Houston’s George Springer certainly has been since moving into the leadoff spot eight games ago, going 17 for 35 with three home runs. He doubled on the first pitch of Tuesday’s game, hit a three-run homer off Corbin (2-5) in the second inning and added a run-scoring single off the left-hander in the fourth.

Springer scored twice and finished 3 for 4.

“His job is to be a good hitter first and what comes with that is a better hitter than when he tries to do too much, when he tries to get too big,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

Luis Valbuena homered for the Astros, who had 12 hits to win for the seventh time in eight games.

Lance McCullers (2-1) had control issues at times, but limited the damage in five innings.

Jean Segura hit a two-run double off Scott Feldman in the ninth inning, but Luke Gregerson struck out the side for his 13th save.

The Astros still may be near the bottom of the AL West, but they’re making up ground quickly after finishing May 17-12.

“We’re playing with more confidence, it’s simple as that,” McCullers said. “We have guys taking confident ABs, guys pitching with confidence and we’re starting to hit on all points of the game when we need to, which is nice to see.”

The Diamondbacks are not.

Arizona had an opportunity to put McCullers on the ropes in the first inning, but left the bases loaded. The Diamondbacks let another opportunity slip away in the fifth inning, managing just one run after loading the bases with one out.

“When we have runners in scoring position, there are times when our at-bats aren’t as good as other times,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “It’s stuff we’re working on.”

McCullers had his first big league hit - a sharp single to left - off Corbin in the second inning and Springer followed with a three-run homer just over the wall in right for a 3-2 lead.

Jake Marisnick added a run-scoring single off Corbin in the fourth inning and Springer chased him with another to left.

“It was pretty apparent early, his velocity was not where it usually is and the breaking ball did not have the same kind of snap to it,” Hale said. “Good hitters like that, it’s tough not to have your good stuff to get them out.”

McCullers allowed three runs and six hits, with seven strikeouts and four walks.

Valbuena put Houston up 8-2 by hitting Randall Delgado’s first pitch of the fifth inning over the wall in right.

NUMBERS

Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt had his first three-hit game since last Aug. 22, against Cincinnati. … Marisnick has seven hits his last four games after having six his first 28 games. … Altuve is 11 for 25 during a six-game hitting streak.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: CF Carlos Gomez returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a bruised ribcage. He hit seventh and finished 1 for 3.

Diamondbacks: OF David Peralta, out since May 15 with a right wrist injury, could rejoin the team this weekend after taking batting practice before Tuesday’s game.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Mike Fiers, Wednesday’s starter against Arizona, gave up a season-high seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his last start.

Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray is 1-2 with a 2.63 ERA in five road starts heading into Wednesday’s game at Houston.


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