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Astros cruise behind Lyles' arm, Dominguez's slam

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Houston Astros manager Bo Porter had been selling the maturation of 22-year-old right-hander Jordan Lyles for weeks, and on Tuesday night, Lyles offered additional confirmation of that growth.

Third baseman Matt Dominguez slugged his first career grand slam while Lyles continued his exceptional stretch of pitching as the Astros crushed the Milwaukee Brewers 10-1 at Minute Maid Park.

Lyles (4-1) recorded his seventh consecutive start allowing two or fewer runs, limiting the Brewers (28-41) to one run on seven hits with five strikeouts over seven innings. Lyles, who entered play with the third-lowest ERA in the American League since May 17, improved to 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in that stretch. Houston is 4-3 over those seven games.

"He's growing up right in front of our eyes," Porter said of Lyles, who failed to make the 25-man roster out of spring training. "A lot of times you take a step back and you kind of reevaluate where you're at. I think that step back was really good for him, and he's now taken multiple steps forward. We're reaping the benefits of a guy who's made right."

Dominguez crushed a 1-0 fastball from Tom Gorzelanny out to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Astros (27-45) recorded their fifth victory in six games. Dominguez clubbed the Astros' first grand slam this season and their first since J.D. Martinez hit one against San Francisco Giants left-hander Barry Zito on June 14, 2012 at AT&T Park.

With the Brewers on the verge of welcoming back a handful of injured starting pitchers, Milwaukee right-hander Alfredo Figaro (1-1) had a golden opportunity to cement his slot in the rotation by building upon the seven shutout innings he tossed at the Miami Marlins on June 12.

Instead, Figaro surrendered a run apiece in the second and fourth innings before Astros first baseman Carlos Pena chased him with a three-run home run down the line in right with one out in the fifth.

Figaro had excelled at averting the big blow, surrendering his first two runs on sacrifice hits from Dominguez and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. But he wasn't so elusive after allowing singles to Jason Castro and Chris Carter in advance of Pena, who turned on a 1-0 fastball for a 5-1 lead.

"Before the home run to Pena he's 0-2 on Carter and misses right over the middle," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Figaro. "That gave them first and second (base). With Pena, you miss with pitches with him and he's a good mistake hitter, like good hitters should be."

Said Figaro, who allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings: "It was one of those days when you feel like your command is not there."

Lyles, meanwhile, didn't struggle maintaining his momentum.

The Brewers threatened with four hits in the third, including an RBI single from catcher Scooter Gennett that followed a leadoff triple from Juan Francisco. But Lyles retired the final two batters of the frame after loading the bases with one out, and then kept Milwaukee at bay.

"I didn't make every pitch that I wanted to make out there, no pitcher ever does," Lyles said. "They didn't capitalize on the bad ones. I made some good pitches and they put good swings on it. I gave up a lot of hits, a lot of balls hit hard; some of them were good pitches, some of them weren't. But for the most part we minimized the damage and got out of there with no multiple run innings."

NOTES: Brewers LHP Chris Narveson will make his fifth rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A Nashville and, depending on his performance, could be set for a recall soon thereafter. Narveson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 8 (retroactive to April 7) with a sprained left middle finger. ... Justin Maxwell made his first start in right field this season, becoming the eighth Houston player to do so. Maxwell made 20 starts in center field before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 24 with a fractured left hand. Brandon Barnes has assumed duties in center field for Houston.
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