ATLANTA (AP) - Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch loves what he’s seeing from his hitters this season.
There’s not a weak link in the lineup.
“We really don’t have a part in our order right now that’s too comfortable for the opponent,” Hinch said. “I’m proud of the at-bats we’re putting up.”
Jose Altuve homered and drove in four runs, Josh Reddick hit a grand slam and the Astros pounded the Atlanta Braves 16-4 on Tuesday night.
Showing why they’re the major leagues’ best team at 57-27, the Astros banged out 19 hits to tie a season high and led 12-0 before Atlanta scratched out some late runs.
Yuli Gurriel doubled twice to drive in four runs, Brad Peacock (6-1) won his third straight start, and George Springer went 4 for 5 with a homer, helping Houston improve to 30-9 on the road and overshadow the return of Braves slugger Freddie Freeman.
Houston has won 11 of 14 overall, thanks in part to Altuve and Gurriel, who are hitting a combined .462 with 16 RBIs in the last seven games.
Reddick’s fifth career grand slam put the Astros up 16-4 in the ninth.
“I think we were all pretty excited to get in there once we realized that we were going to be moving around the bases pretty much a lot tonight,” Reddick said.
The Braves began the night one game shy of .500 after winning 11 of 15, but Sean Newcomb (1-3) struggled with pitch location in his first career start against a potent major league lineup. The rookie gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Freeman, returning from a broken left wrist, was reinstated from the disabled list after meeting early in the day with a team physician. He came back as the Braves’ starting third baseman, moving from first base to a position he hadn’t played since high school.
Freeman singled in his first at-bat and easily handled his first chance at the hot corner, fielding a grounder and throwing sharply to first in the second. It was an uneventful debut, just what he wanted.
“I felt like I was in good position, had good first step and felt pretty good over there,” Freeman said.
Peacock gave up seven hits and three runs and struck out seven in six-plus innings. He had plenty of run support early.
Houston went up 1-0 in the second on Gurriel’s double and 5-0 in the third on Springer’s 25th homer and Gurriel’s three-run double.
Altuve hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot, to make it 12-0 in the seventh.
“They’re pretty good, they’re athletic, they really hit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They did that the last time we played them. Look at box scores, and that’s the reason they’re the best team in baseball.”
Springer’s 25 homers are Houston’s most before the All-Star break since Lance Berkman had 24 in 2006.
Astros: All-Star SS Carlos Correa left the game before the start of the fifth with left thumb discomfort. Correa was hurt sliding headfirst into home as catcher Tyler Flowers tagged him to end the fourth inning. X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. … RHP Charlie Morton, sidelined since late May with a lat strain, is expected to return from the DL and start Friday at Toronto.
Braves: INF-OF Sean Rodriguez made his third straight rehab start and first with Single-A Rome. Rodriguez, in his first year with the Braves after signing last November as a free agent, was expected to miss the season after car accident in February required shoulder surgery.
With Morton back in the rotation, Hinch said RHP Lance McCullers will start Thursday at Toronto. RHP Mike Fiers goes Saturday and either Peacock or RHP Francis Martes on Sunday.
The Braves announced a sellout of 41,456, the biggest crowd yet in their first season at SunTrust Park.
Astros: RHP Joe Musgrove (4-7) will get called up from Triple-A Fresno and make his 14th start. Musgrove, with a 6.01 ERA, has allowed 14 homers.
Braves: LHP Jaime Garcia (2-6) will make his 16th start and has a 10.13 ERA in his last three outings.
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