CLEVELAND (AP)Grinding through a rugged stretch of their schedule, the Astros came to town reeling and badly needing some rest.
They’re rolling again.
Jake Odorizzi controlled Cleveland’s hitters for six innings, Carlos Correa homered and Houston didn’t miss a beat despite being down a couple stars in a 3-2 win on Saturday night over the banged-up Indians, who have lost a season-high five straight.
Odorizzi (3-3) allowed one earned run and four hits while pitching into the seventh. The right-hander, slowed by injuries the past two years, has only allowed two runs over 20 innings in his last four starts.
”It’s nice to get a little deeper into the game,” Odorizzi said. ”I’m fully back.”
So, it seems, are the Astros.
They arrived in Cleveland in the wee hours Friday morning after being swept at home by Baltimore. But they’ve won three straight in this four-game series, and manager Dusty Baker has been able to sit some top players.
”I know they’re tired, but they’re digging deep,” said Baker, who rested second baseman Jose Altuve and is looking forward to a break in the schedule on Monday. ”This was a big win for us.”
Houston’s bullpen, shaky for much of the season, came through. Ryne Stanek and Cristian Javier worked an inning apiece before Ryan Pressly pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.
”He’s doing a very good job with very little drama,” said Baker, who gave his right-hander an All-Star vote. ”That’s what you want out of your closer.”
Correa connected for his 16th homer in the fourth off rookie Eli Morgan (1-3) and Abraham Toro added his third in the inning as the Astros improved to 32-16 against teams with a .500-or-better record – baseball’s best such mark.
Along with Altuve, the Astros, who recently ripped off 11 straight wins, also were missing Michael Brantley, the AL’s leading hitter. He was a late scratch with right side discomfort.
”We didn’t want to take any chances,” said Baker, adding Brantley is day to day. ”At first, he was trying to be a hero. We’re treating him with kid gloves and taking care of it.”
Cleveland didn’t have star third baseman Jose Ramirez. He missed his second game in a row with a sore left elbow.
The Indians stranded 15 runners – their most in a nine-inning game since 2012 – on Friday but finally got the clutch they’ve been needing in the seventh when Harold Ramirez doubled home Eddie Rosario, who led off with a double to pull within 3-2.
That hit chased Odorizzi, who threw a season-high 91 pitches, and the Astros brought in Stanek. He prevented the Indians from tying it with two strikeouts and third baseman Toro made a nice pick on an infield grounder to throw out rookie Ernie Clement.
Morgan was the third consecutive rookie to start for the Indians, who are trying to stay above water while waiting for their top three pitchers – Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac – to return from injuries.
”We’re going through a challenging time, but when we do it together and we have guys pulling in the same direction, it sure makes it a lot better,” manager Terry Francona said when asked a about his relievers being available. ”And I mean for us, too.
”I know we’re supposed to be there for them, but they’re there for us, and that means a lot.”
Odorizzi blanked the Indians over the first three, extending his scoreless streak to 18 innings before Cleveland scratched out an unearned run in the fourth.
With Cleveland fans chanting, ”Cheat-er! Cheat-er!” Correa, who didn’t play in the series opener when Altuve silenced booing with a grand slam, gave the Astros a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI single.
Correa was again the target of more boos and heckling in the fourth when he yanked a 3-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers. One out later, Toro, after getting some advice from Altuve to keep his shoulder up, made it 3-0 with his shot over the fence in right.
The Indians got back a big piece as Gold Glove winning catcher Roberto Perez was activated from the injured list after missing almost two months following finger surgery. Perez is expected to start Sunday.
However, Cleveland didn’t have Ramirez, who banged his left elbow while diving for a ball on Thursday. Francona said his best player was only ”minimally better” and needed another day.
Astros: RF Kyle Tucker (back spasms) missed his second straight game after tightening up during batting practice Friday. He was only available as a pinch-hitter. … INF/OF Aledmys Diaz (broken left hand) hit balls off a tee for the first time since he was hit by a pitch last month. Baker said he remains ”a ways away” from returning.
Indians: Plesac consistently threw his fastball in the mid-90s during a three-inning rehab appearance for Double-A Akron. He allowed one run and two hits with four strikeouts. … OF Josh Naylor is expected to begin what will be a long rehab next week following surgery Friday to repair multiple leg fractures and torn ligaments.
Houston RHP Zack Greinke (8-2) tries to complete the series sweep against Indians RHP Cal Quantrill (0-2).
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