The Astros broke out of an offensive slump in a big way. At least Chris Carter did.
Carter homered twice to left field in the Astros’ 4-1 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday, breaking a five-game losing streak in which the Astros scored a total of five runs. The Rays won the first two games of the series at Minute Maid Park, outscoring the Astros 20-0.
It’s because of games like this that the Astros are so high on Bud Norris (6-7), who allowed only a first-inning run in seven innings. The right-hander gave up six hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Norris pitches well at Minute Maid. Since 2012 his home ERA is third lowest in the majors.
Roberto Hernandez (4-10) had a tough act to follow, after Matt Moore and David Price had thrown seven scoreless innings each against the Astros in the previous two games. Hernandez gave up Carter’s first-inning home run, and he gave up two hits in the seventh that proceeded Carter’s second home run of the game.
Jose Cisnero pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Houston, getting help from a double play started by shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Jose Veras pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 17th save.
Jake McGee gave up the biggest hit of the game, Carter’s three-run home run that gave Houston a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning. Carter was McGee’s first batter after relieving Hernandez.
At the plate
Carter’s multi-homer game was the second of his career and second of the season (April 9 at Seattle). Carter led off the second inning with a home run off Hernandez to tie the game 1-1.
Brett Wallace had a head-first slide into second for a double to lead off the last of the seventh. He was replaced by pinch runner Jake Elmore. Jason Castro followed with a single, chasing Hernandez from the game. Elmore and Castro scored on Carter’s 17th home run of the season.
For Tampa Bay, James Loney had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, one shy of his career high. Tampa Bay scored its first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist.
In the field
From his third base position, Matt Dominguez started a 5-4-3 double play to end the Rays’ seventh in a 1-1 game on Norris’ final pitch.
Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes covers a lot of ground. He did so again on running down a ball hit by Wil Myers. Barnes caught up with the ball on the warning track in left-center for the second out of the sixth inning in a 1-1 game.
Rays third baseman Kelly Johnson didn’t have to cover much ground on what was the catch of the day. One at-bat after his towering homer, Carter hit a smash right at Johnson. Johnson caught the ball, but the impact practically knocked him to the ground. Johnson actually stumbled a few feet after catching the ball.
The Astros end a nine-game homestand and a four-game series with Tampa Bay on Thursday for a 1:10 p.m. start. RHP Jordan Lyles (4-3, 3.99 ERA) starts for Houston vs. RHP Chris Archer (2-3, 4.40 ERA).
The Astros begin a three-game series at Texas starting on Friday. The Astros won’t return to Minute Maid Park until July 19, when they open a three-game series with Seattle.