Astros hit six homers, hold off Orioles

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- One night after lamenting the number of hard-hit balls that resulted in harmless, loud outs, Houston manager Bo Porter witnessed an offensive onslaught that validated his belief in the Astros' hot bats.
Six Houston players homered, and the Astros held off a late Baltimore Orioles uprising to complete an 11-7 victory Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Jason Castro, Carlos Pena and J.D. Martinez cranked two-run home runs, while Marwin Gonzalez, Matt Dominguez and Jose Altuve added solo shots for the Astros (22-38). Houston last hit six homers in a game Aug. 9, 2006, in a 14-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Minute Maid Park.
"That there is what you call good, old-fashion American League baseball," Porter said. "That's a good ballclub they have over there. And to battle the way they battled and to get down early (and recover), it's a credit to (Orioles manager) Buck Showalter, his staff and their ballclub.
"But I give our guys a lot of credit, too. We hit a lot of balls hard. These guys really locked into the at-bats today. (Astros hitting coach) John Mallee, (assistant hitting coach Dan) Radison, they did a good job of preparing our hitters, and early on, obviously, you saw the production."
After Martinez belted his home run off Orioles right-handed reliever Steve Johnson in the fourth inning, the Astros comfortably led 9-1.
However, Baltimore (33-26) posted consecutive three-run innings in the seventh and eighth and had the tying run at the plate in the latter frame before Astros right-hander Hector Ambriz induced an inning-ending double play from J.J. Hardy to squelch the rally.
Hardy hit his 13th homer and catcher Matt Wieters his eighth for Baltimore. Astros closer Jose Veras worked a scoreless ninth despite the non-save situation to preserve the victory for left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-2), who allowed one run on five hits and two walks over six innings.
"It's tough, but it's going to happen," Wieters said. "We gave it a run there at the end. It would have been nice to get that one."
Orioles right-hander Freddy Garcia (2-3), who was signed by Houston 20 years ago as a free agent out of Venezuela, made his first appearance against his initial organization in nine years. Garcia was part of a package of players Houston shipped to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Randy Johnson at the 1998 trade deadline. During his 15-year career, 76 of his 154 games came with the Mariners.
His homecoming was dismal. Castro and Pena bashed their eighth and sixth home runs, respectively, into the Houston bullpen in right-center field in the first inning, erasing the Orioles' 1-0 lead. Gonzalez added a solo homer, his fourth, with one out in the second, also into the bullpen. Dominguez chased Garcia with his ninth homer in the fourth inning.
Garcia allowed a season-high six runs while pitching a season-low three innings. He looked every bit of his 36 years, victimized by an Astros power surge that seemed gratuitous at first yet proved necessary by game's end.
"I didn't have it. I didn't pitch my best," Garcia said. "I made a good pitch and I got my (rear end) kicked. That's part of this game. Sometimes you pitch one game and you're good, and the next game something like this happens. You continue to do the best you can."
Said Martinez: "I think everybody hit the ball hard tonight. You felt like you needed headphones or ear plugs in the dugout because everybody was hitting the ball hard."
NOTES: Top Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton was transferred to Double-A Corpus Christi and started Wednesday night against Midland. In six games with Class A Quad Cities, the first baseman hit .286 with three home runs and five RBIs. Singleton missed the first 50 games of the season following a suspension for a second positive drug test. ... The Orioles entered the night having won seven consecutive games against the Astros, the fourth-longest streak by Baltimore against one club since 2005. ... Baltimore has recorded at least two extra-base hits in 33 consecutive games, the longest streak in the majors this season. ... Houston had six different players homer in a game once previously: Aug. 16, 2000, at Pittsburgh.

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