Jose Altuve homered twice on a milestone individual anniversary and the Houston Astros parlayed a six-run fifth inning into a 9-3 victory over the visiting Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
Altuve, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his major league debut, finished 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. He cranked a leadoff home run to left-center field in the first for a 1-0 lead and added another solo blast in the third, with his 357-foot shot ricocheting off the left field foul pole.
Aside from Altuve recording his 21st and 22nd homers of the season, Indians rookie right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-4) kept the Astros at bay until things unraveled in the fifth. Houston sent 10 batters to the plate in the breakout frame, with McKenzie departing after allowing a two-run single to Yordan Alvarez that drove home Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel.
The Astros were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position before Alvarez beat the shift with his hit to center, which came after McKenzie uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Brantley and Gurriel into scoring position.
Houston extended to a 6-0 lead two batters later when Kyle Tucker smacked his 16th homer, a 435-foot shot into the seats behind the home bullpen off Indians reliever Nick Sandlin.
Brantley completed the scoring with a two-run single off right-hander Justin Garza.
McKenzie, after twirling seven shutout innings in his previous start, allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk, with three strikeouts, in four innings to remain winless in his last seven starts.
Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia (7-5) had no such issues. He retired the first five batters, including three in succession via strikeouts, and sidestepped a pair of two-out singles in the second by retiring the next 10 batters.
Indians third baseman Ernie Clement opened the sixth with a single, but Garcia responded by breezing through the top of the Cleveland order to cap his six shutout innings with three singles, no walks and a career-high-tying eight strikeouts.
After mustering just four hits through seven innings, the Indians cobbled together four successive hits against Astros reliever Joe Smith as part of their three-run eighth. Still, Cleveland fell to 0-6 against Houston this season and has dropped 14 of 20 overall.
--Field Level Media