HOUSTON (AP) Houston’s lineup is so powerful that even the Astros’ No. 9 hitter Jake Marisnick has been dangerous at the plate this season.
He proved that once again on Monday night, finishing with three hits, including two homers, and a career-high five RBIs and the Astros coasted to a 14-7 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
”It’s nice to have that kind of production at the bottom,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”It really makes things interesting when we roll to the top again no matter who we put at the top. They’ve benefited from some guys at the bottom doing their part.”
The Rays cut the lead to one after a two-run homer by Corey Dickerson in the third inning before an RBI single by Tyler White made it 4-2 with two outs in the bottom of the inning.
Marisnick’s first shot – a three-run homer which bounced off the wall above the seats in left field – came next to push the lead to 7-2.
Two pitches later Derek Fisher, who finished a triple shy of the cycle, connected off Alex Cobb (9-7) on a home run to right field to make it 8-2.
The Astros were up 10-2 in the fifth inning when Marisnick launched a solo shot to left field for his second career multi-homer game.
”You go 1-9 with us and we can do it and we’ve got guys on the bench that can do it, too,” Marisnick said. ”It’s just a complete team, a complete lineup.”
Houston starter Charlie Morton (9-4) allowed a season-low two hits with two runs in six innings for his fourth win in five starts.
Cobb was tagged with nine hits and eight runs in a season-low three innings for his first loss since July 2. He’d been pitching well lately, allowing just five runs combined and going 3-0 in his past four starts.
”Alex just didn’t have it,” Tampa manager Kevin Cash said. ”He couldn’t quite command the baseball, missing over the plate too much. They came out, and they didn’t miss anything either.”
Jose Altuve added two hits, including a two-RBI single which pushed Houston’s lead to 3-0 in the second, before being lifted in the seventh with the game out of hand.
Dickerson added a solo home run in Tampa’s four-run eighth inning to give him his seventh multi-homer game and third this season.
Houston added three runs in the eighth inning when the Rays put backup catcher Jesus Sucre in to pitch with their bullpen taxed.
Rays: 1B Logan Morrison was the team’s designated hitter on Monday after missing three straight starts with a bruised left heel. Manager Kevin Cash said he wanted to give him one more day off his feet and expects him to return to first base on Tuesday.
Astros: Houston placed right-hander Lance McCullers on the 10-day disabled list on Monday with back discomfort. This is the second stint on the disabled list with the same problem for McCullers, who was also out from June 12 to 24. McCullers is 7-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts this season. … Reliever Michael Felix left Monday night’s game after the second home run by Dickerson because of discomfort in his right shoulder.
Altuve wrapped up July with the best batting average in a month in franchise history. The All-Star second baseman hit .485 with 10 doubles, a triple, four homers and 21 RBIs. His big July surpassed the .476 that Richard Hidalgo posted in September 2000. Active’s 48 hits in July were the most in a month by an Astro since Lance Berkman had 49 in May 2008.
Altuve said he doesn’t really keep up with what he’s doing by the month, but he was so hot in July it was hard not to notice.
”I hit a lot, obviously people told me that,” he said. ”But the only thing I’m looking for is to help my team.”
SUCRE ON THE MOUND
Sucre made his third career pitching appearance on Monday night and his first since Aug. 15, 2015, with the Mariners. That was the second of two outings in 2015, with the other one coming on June 12, 2015, against the Astros.
He was a good sport about being thrown into action.
”I was trying to have fun with Wilson (Ramos) over there,” he said. ”I was laughing every time he threw the slider down.”
Rays: Chris Archer (7-6, 3.80) will start for Tampa Bay on Tuesday. He struck out 10 in six innings in his previous start, but didn’t factor into the decision after Alex Coloma’s blown save in a 6-5 loss in 11 innings.
Astros: Mike Fiers (7-5, 3.71) is scheduled to start for Houston on Tuesday. Fires looks to bounce back after allowing five hits and three runs in just four innings of a 9-0 loss to the Phillies in his previous start.
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