Porter on Clark's, Dominguez's big nights
Cody Clark’s first major league hit jump-started Houston’s six-run fifth inning that was highlighted by a Matt Dominguez grand slam as the Astros held off the Angels 9-7 on Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Jose Altuve earlier had hit a three-run home run for the Astros, who opened the six-game homestand with their fourth consecutive win. The Astros swept a three-game series at Seattle. Josh Fields retired the side in order in the ninth to get his fifth save and make a winner out of Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel (6-9) looked good at times, yet struggled at times. Keuchel tied a career-high with nine strikeouts but he allowed six runs and 10 hits, including a home run, in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two. Keuchel struck out the side in both the second and fifth inning. He previously struck out nine on June 21 this year at the Chicago Cubs.
Jason Vargas (8-7) didn’t allow Dominguez’s second career grand slam, but was tagged for three of the runs. Vargas was charged with a lot of runs in his short outing. The left-hander allowed eight runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. The good news for Vargas is that he didn’t allow a walk. He struck out four.
IN THE BULLPEN
Fields looked confident as he retired the Angels in order in the ninth. He struck out Kole Calhoun to end the game. Josh Zeid’s biggest out was inducing Mark Trumbo to hit into a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning and the Astros ahead 9-7. Jorge De Leon came in relief of Keuchel. In one inning De Leon allowed no runs and one hit with a strikeout and a walk.
Cory Rasmus allowed Dominguez’s grand slam that gave the Astros a 9-4 lead.
AT THE PLATE
Trevor Crowe and Jonathan Villar had three hits each for the Astros, who accumulated 14 hits. The big blows for the Astros were home runs from Dominguez and Altuve. Altuve’s fifth home run of the season put Houston ahead 3-2 in the third inning. Dominguez’s 20th home run gave Houston a 9-4 lead. The Astros had taken a 5-4 lead in the fifth on a two-run single by Crowe.
Clark began his major league career 0-for-25, but his single to center field off Vargas to leadoff the fifth was the catalyst of the six-run inning. Altuve scored twice as did Brandon Barnes, who had two hits.
Erick Aybar had three hits for the Angels. The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Trumbo’s two-run triple off Keuchel that rolled up Tal’s Hill. Trumbo has enjoyed success against Keuchel. Prior to Friday’s game, in five at-bats against Keuchel, Trumbo had a homer, a triple and a double. Chris Iannetta, who had two hits and scored twice, homered on Keuchel’s first pitch of the fourth inning to tie the game 3-3. Andrew Romine had two hits and two RBIs for the Angels, who also got two hits from Howie Kendrick.
IN THE FIELD
Astros second baseman Altuve started a 4-6-3 double play for the first two outs of the seventh inning and the Astros leading 9-6. Mike Trout opened the seventh by drawing a walk off De Leon. A potential Angels rally was thwarted as De Leon got Trumbo to hit into the double play.
Angels right fielder Calhoun made the defensive play of the game, throwing out Crowe at the plate to complete a seventh-inning double play. With the bases loaded and no outs, Calhoun caught a fly ball hit by Chris Carter for the first out. Calhoun’s throw was a laser and on the fly as catcher Iannetta applied the tag on a sliding Crowe for the second out. The next batter L.J. Hoes struck out as the Astros failed to score in the inning with the bases loaded and no outs, and couldn’t add to their 9-6 lead.
Game two of the three-game series at Minute Maid Park is Saturday at 6:10 p.m. with Houston left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (4-2, 2.65 ERA) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (9-8, 3.38 ERA). In Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale, RHP Paul Clemens (4-4, 5.91 ERA) of Houston opposes RHP Jerome Williams (7-10, 4.81 ERA).