Astros getting by, seek sweep of Giants


SAN FRANCISCO -- Earlier on Monday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch was pleased to share some relatively positive updates regarding the avalanche of injuries that have befallen his club. Later that same evening, Hinch was smiling for a different reason altogether.

With second baseman Jose Altuve (right knee), shortstop Carlos Correa (lower back) and outfielder George Springer (left thumb) simultaneously on the 10-day disabled list, the Astros (72-42) on Monday fielded a starting lineup that in no way resembled the juggernaut that paved the path to a World Series championship last postseason.

But what Houston had in ample supply was resilience and persistence, enough to rally for a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants (57-57) in the opener of a two-game interleague series at AT&T Park.

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Springer, Altuve, and Correa are respectively ranked second, third, and sixth in runs scored for Houston, and Monday the short-handed Astros managed three hits entering the ninth inning, with their prior base knock coming with two outs in the third on a Tony Kemp double.

But utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez, filling in for Altuve at second, lifted the Astros to victory with a three-run homer off Giants left-hander Will Smith with two outs in the ninth to help Houston record its fifth victory on an eight-game road trip that concludes Tuesday. Even with so many holes in their lineup, the Astros found a way to stay within striking distance until their regulars could fashion a rally. Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel walked ahead of Gonzalez.

"Really all the at-bats that inning were probably the best at-bats," Hinch said. "We had some pretty good at-bats throughout the day; offense was hard to come by. The two walks by Bregman and Yuli set up Marwin. He gets in a good count (1-0), gets a good pitch and drives it out of the ballpark on a cold night where the ball doesn't travel here."

Springer suffered a thumb injury Sunday, the extent of which proved to be relatively minor, a fortunate reversal after Springer departed in obvious pain. He was diagnosed with a sprain and should be able to return inside of two weeks. Altuve is slated to ramp up baseball activities later this week while right-hander Lance McCullers had his injury described as a muscle strain in his forearm. He is expected to return in September, primed for the stretch run.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (9-9, 3.61 ERA) will start Tuesday for the Astros looking to join the other four members of the rotation with a double-digit win total. Keuchel allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over five innings in his lone start against the Giants, a 6-4 home loss during his rookie season of 2012.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (4-4, 2.97) will start for the Giants as they look to avert a four-game season series sweep against Houston. He is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA over five career starts against the Astros.

Bumgarner hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his previous four starts.

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