The Grand Slam: Astros take series from Angels, Rays drop 10th straight

David Brown

 

 
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Everything's coming up Astros.

Not only did the Houston Astros help their future by taking high-school left-hander Brady Aiken with the top pick in the draft Thursday night, they also took care of the present. The Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-5 at Minute Maid Park to take the series and win for the 15th time in 24 games. The Astros might be improved enough to not pick anywhere near first in the next draft, breaking their streak of three straight seasons at the top.

Jose Altuve, George Springer and Dexter Fowler all had big nights at the plate against the Angels, and Chad Qualls nailed down his sixth save with slugger Albert Pujols standing at the plate as the potential tying run in the ninth inning. (Somewhere, 2005 Brad Lidge was like, "So that's how it's done.")

Altuve and Springer helped the Astros add to their lead with a four-run eighth inning.

''It's not a secret that we have been playing better baseball lately,'' Altuve said. ''The hitters are doing their job, the pitchers have been doing tremendous, we have been playing really good defense. It seems like we are putting everything together, going out there and playing hard and we are winning the games.''

Mike Trout, who's been dealing with a sore back, had two hits, including a double and triple.

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RAYS LOSE 10TH STRAIGHT: The Tampa Bay Rays matched the Boston Red Sox for longest losing streak in the league Thursday night by dropping their 10th straight game, an 11-6 contest to the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field.

The Rays, who have won at least 90 games in five of the past six seasons with four playoff appearances in that span, have the worst record in the league at 23-38, and are 14 games out of first place in the AL East:

''This team's too good for that,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''There's too much talent on this team to go through this particular moment. I'm really not into the blame game. We're all culpable when it doesn't go well. I mean that sincerely. It's a good ballclub. These are good baseball players.''

J.T. Realmuto had two hits and drove in three runs in his major league debut, and Justin Bour added his first two big-league hits as well. Giancarlo Stanton extended Miami's lead with a two-run homer in the seventh.

MISSOURI CHAMPS:

(AP)
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(AP)

The Kansas City Royals broke an eight-game losing streak at home against the St. Louis Cardinals, beating their neighbors 3-2 behind right-hander Yordano Ventura and a typically strong bullpen performance. The Royals took three of four interleague games from the Cardinals, who dropped to 31-30 overall this season.

Ventura skipped his previous start because of a tender elbow that, for a time, gave the Royals grave concern. But Ventura was solid against the Cards, allowing two runs and seven hits over six innings to outduel Michael Wacha. Three relievers, finishing with Greg Holland for the save, combined to allow the Cardinals one hit over three innings.

Ventura finished with only two strikeouts, an unusually low total for him, but he was throwing his four-seam fastball at 98 mph, which has been typical velocity. He stayed away from cut fastballs for the second time in three starts. Those can be more stressful on the elbow.

ROCKIES CAN'T WIN AT COORS, EITHER: The Arizona Diamondbacks completed a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 12-7 victory at Coors Field. The D-backs took advantage of the friendly conditions for batters by scoring 32 runs and pounding 48 hits in the three-game set. Colorado has lost seven in a row overall.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss called a meeting before the game, a day after his club allowed 16 runs. But he also admitted there are "no magic words" that can make a team play winning baseball. The Rockies are 28-31 after being eight games over .500 as recently as May 7. Weiss was asked if the Rockies had hit bottom.

''I don't know,'' Weiss said. ''We have a game tomorrow. We'll try to win a game tomorrow.''

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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