Astros carried a big stick Tuesday

Astros carried a big stick Tuesday
September 11, 2013, 1:15 pm
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(Steven Bisig - USA Today Sports Images)

Jonathan Villar deposited Joe Saunders’ first pitch of the game over the left-field wall for his first major league home run. And the hits didn’t stop there for the Astros, who hammered the Mariners 13-2 on Tuesday at Safeco Field in a 17-hit assault.

“Villar got it started,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “The guys put together some quality at-bats up and down the lineup.”

Jose Altuve had his second straight three-hit game to improve to 21-for-46 in September, Chris Carter was on base his first five times with three hits and Matt Dominguez had three hits and two RBIs and Villar scored three times and had two hits. Dominguez and Carter each drew bases-loaded walks in the eighth inning.

Brandon Laird added two hits and three RBIs, including a seventh-inning home run, his third of the season, that gave the Astros an 8-2 lead.

With the decisive victory the Astros clinched the series win with the series finale on Wednesday night. The Astros are 5-4 in Seattle this year.

“It’s fun,” said Astros right fielder L.J. Hoes, who added two hits and three RBIs. “You wish the games were like this all the time. Everyone’s out there clicking on all cylinders.”

In addition to home runs from Villar and Laird, the Astros had a season-high eight doubles. They got two doubles each from Carter and Altuve, with Hoes, Dominguez, Laird and Brandon Barnes each getting a double.

All this helped make a winner out of starting pitcher Jordan Lyles (7-7), who allowed only two runs, one earned, in six innings.

The Astros scored six runs over the first three innings to chase Saunders (11-14) from the game and they scored seven runs over the final three innings.

The 11-run differential tied a season high for the Astros, who defeated the Baltimore Orioles 11-0 on the road on July 31.

“It definitely is contagious,” said Porter. “You start to swing the bat and see your teammates getting hits. It’s one of those things where it’s almost like passing the baton.

“Guys are seeing the ball well, laying off some tough pitches and getting pitches they can handle and putting good swings on them.”

Houston’s 17 hits tied for second-most this season. The Astros had 22 hits in a 16-9 win in Seattle on April 9.

And it wasn’t just good hitting on Tuesday from the Astros. They had five stolen bases with Villar picking up two on consecutive pitches in the third inning, and Altuve stealing three bases. Altuve’s three steals gives him a career-high 35.

“We have some guys that can be aggressive and those guys did a good job of taking advantage of situations where we felt we could be aggressive,” said Porter. “And with Villar and Altuve at the top of the lineup, it allows us to be aggressive."