Mor­ton wins No. 15 as of­fense hangs 10

Springer has 4 hits, Gur­riel gets 3 RBIs in rout of Ari­zona

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BASEBALL - By Hunter Atkins STAFF WRITER hunter.atkins@chron.com twit­ter.com/hunter­atkins35

The Astros got tired of wait­ing to come up with a break­through hit that could make Di­a­mond­backs starter Zach God­ley pay for his mis­takes on Satur­day at Minute Maid Park.

God­ley gifted three hits and six walks in the first three in­nings, but the Astros eked out two runs. They left six run­ners on base. They were hit­less in four chances with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. One of their hits was Josh Red­dick’s solo home run.

Stel­lar pitch­ing — which Char­lie Mor­ton pro­vided — and un­ex­pected pro­duc­tion from bench­warm­ers-turned-starters have com­pen­sated for Hous­ton’s in­con­sis­tent of­fense at Minute Maid Park this sea­son. The Astros lead in scor­ing and bat­ting av­er­age on the road, but they are mid­dling at home.

In the fourth in­ning, the Astros (93-55) got ag­gres­sive and, as a re­sult, might have gen­er­ated the luck needed to ex­pand a 10-4 vic­tory over the Di­a­mond­backs (78-71).

A sin­gle, a hit-and-run and shrewd base run­ning on a fielder’s choice put Ge­orge Springer on third and Jose Al­tuve on sec­ond with two outs.

Then Mar­win Gonzalez came through where his team­mates had not. He sent a line drive deep to right field. Steven Souza Jr. ap­peared to lose sight of the ball. It nicked Souza’s glove and bounced to the wall. Springer and Al­tuve scored.

Gur­riel fol­lowed with a sin­gle through the right side of the in­field. Gonzalez went for third. Souza raced in, low­ered his glove and over­ran the ball. Gonzalez ped­dled for home and Gur­riel reached third to push the Astros ahead 5-1.

“The qual­ity of our at-bats was ridicu­lously good,” Astros man­ager A.J. Hinch said. “You could see how much pres­sure we were putting on them with the bat, our legs, our base run­ning—and kept ap­ply­ing pres­sure when we were giv­ing the op­por­tu­nity.”

In the sixth, with Springer and Al­tuve on base again, Breg­man lined a come­backer off righthander Sil­vino Bra­cho. Bra­cho over­threw first base, let­ting Springer score and keep­ing run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. Gur­riel’s bases-clear­ing sin­gle up the mid­dle gave the Astros an 8-2 lead.

An in­ning later, Springer shot a ball into right-cen­ter and Red­dick, who had been on first, sprinted for third with­out break­ing stride. Red­dick ar­rived safely and drew a throw from the out­field that let Springer scurry to sec­ond base.

, Al­tuve drove in Red­dick and Springer with a dou­ble.

The cush­ion of­fered a chance for call-up Myles Straw to make his de­but. He pinch ran for Al­tuve.

Out of 12 hits, only Red­dick’s 14th home run and Al­tuve’s dou­ble were for ex­tra bases. Springer had four sin­gles. Breg­man, who had a sin­gle and three walks, ex­tended his on-base streak to 41 games. Al­tuve and Car­los Cor­rea had a steal apiece. Hinch saw his of­fense at its best. “We bunch those things to­gether and this is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent of­fense than when we don’t,” Hinch said.

Mor­ton (15-3, 3.15 ERA) made his sec­ond start since com­ing off the dis­abled list. He gave up two earned runs and struck out seven in six in­nings to earn his 15th vic­tory, a ca­reer high.

Af­ter he started the fourth by hit­ting A.J. Pol­lock in the back, Mor­ton looked up into the roof and squeezed his eyes shut, know­ing the lead­off run­ner could score with the mid­dle of Ari­zona’s lineup due up. He man­aged to keep Ari­zona to one earned run on David Per­alta’s sac­ri­fice fly.

Mor­ton’s other blem­ish was a solo home run he al­lowed to Ke­tel Marte, which cut the score to 5-2 in the fifth.

Chris Deven­ski had not pitched in 11 days. In the eighth, he sur­ren­dered Ed­uardo Es­co­bar’s sev­enth home run.

Brad Pea­cock pitched for the first time since miss­ing three games be­cause of hand, foot and mouth dis­ease. He looked rusty in the ninth. He gave up the fi­nal run on two hits and a walk.

The scor­ing out­burst over­shad­owed Mor­ton’s ac­com­plish­ment, which is sig­nif­i­cant given the sport’s trend of tak­ing starters out ear­lier in games and mak­ing a 20game win­ner on the verge of ex­tinc­tion. Hinch re­moved Mor­ton af­ter 70 pitches.

Wins might be less valu­able to statis­ti­cians, but Hinch em­pha­sized that they are not less mean­ing­ful to the men on the field. The Astros screamed for Mor­ton, draped him in the team’s shabby but cer­e­mo­ni­ous robe and cel­e­brated the 15th vic­tory in his 11th sea­son in the ma­jors.

“It means some­thing to some­body,” Hinch said, point­ing to­ward the club­house. “I know that.”

“The guys were gen­uinely happy for me,” Mor­ton said. “We’ve been through a lot. It means a lot to me.”

Karen Warren / Staff pho­tog­ra­pher

The Astros’ Josh Red­dick (22) cel­e­brates his home run with Ge­orge Springer dur­ing Satur­day’s win over Ari­zona. The of­fense helped starter Char­lie Mor­ton win his 15th game.

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