Springer powers 1st-place Astros to 14-3 win over Padres

SAN DIEGO (AP) Maybe it’s time to take the Houston Astros seriously.

George Springer homered and drove in five runs, Jose Altuve had four hits and the surprising Astros routed the San Diego Padres 14-3 Tuesday night.

Evan Gattis added a two-run shot and Chris Carter connected for a solo drive as the AL West leaders hit three home runs at spacious Petco Park for the second consecutive night. The Astros, who have won five straight and nine of 10, set season highs for runs and hits (16).

”There is a lot of energy, a lot of confidence,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”We’ve been playing good baseball, not error-free. But this brings a lot of smiles. Winning really does bring a togetherness to this group.”

Houston (13-7) is 9-2 on the road, equaling the best 11-game start away from home in team history.

Springer hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and added a two-run single in the eighth as he tied his career high for RBIs.

Asked if he thinks other teams are taking the Astros seriously, Altuve said: ”I think so. Just the way we are playing. I had a lot of guys saying that with everybody going good, it’s going to be hard to beat us. That’s what we are trying to do.”

Altuve, the reigning AL batting champ, went 4 for 6 with an RBI to raise his batting average to .348 and extend his hitting streak to seven games. He is batting .429 (15 for 35) with nine RBIs during the streak.

”Everybody has been moving in the right direction,” Gattis said. ”It’s good that we are all coming together and coming together at the same time.”

Roberto Hernandez (1-2) allowed solo homers to Wil Myers and Justin Upton, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings.

The Padres, who came in leading the NL in runs, have lost six of seven.

San Diego starter Tyson Ross (1-2), who walked six in his previous outing, struck out nine in five innings. But the two batters he walked both scored, and the right-hander allowed four runs on five hits.

”They jumped on our pitchers,” Padres manager Bud Black said. ”We didn’t pitch well at all from the get-go. Not many quality pitches as the night went on. It was a tough night for a lot of our pitchers.”

Gattis put Houston ahead with his home run in the first inning – with some help from Myers.

As Myers jumped in front of the center-field wall, the ball caromed off his glove, then bounced off the top of the fence for Gattis’ second home run.

With the Astros playing an interleague game in an NL park, Gattis made his first start in left field after serving as the designated hitter in 16 of Houston’s 18 AL games.

Myers had three hits and scored two runs.

ANOTHER LOOK

Ross threw a high-and-tight fastball to Luis Valbuena in the fifth inning. Valbuena reacted as if the ball hit him on his right hand. Plate umpire Jim Reynolds ruled Valbuena was hit by the pitch. Houston’s trainer came out as Valbuena walked to first base, shaking his hand. Black challenged the call, and when the replay was magnified on the Padres’ new 61-foot by 123-foot HD scoreboard, it appeared the ball missed Valbuena’s hand. But the call was upheld. ”I think I heard a nick,” Hinch said with a smile.

STREAKING

Astros RHP Will Harris pitched two perfect innings to run his streak to 25 consecutive scoreless appearances. Only Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (26 games) has a longer active streak.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: SS Jed Lowrie will have surgery after he was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn ligament in his right thumb. He is expected to be out until after the All-Star break. Lowrie was injured sliding into home plate Monday night.

Padres: RHP Josh Johnson threw 40 pitches in a simulated game. The workout came one year and three days after his second Tommy John surgery.

UP NEXT

Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.62 ERA) threw two-hit ball over nine shutout innings in his most recent outing against Oakland.

Padres: RHP Andrew Cashner (1-3, 2.63) has allowed no more than two earned runs in 20 consecutive starts at Petco Park. … Struggling 2B Jedd Gyorko, batting .143 with three RBIs, is expected to make his second start in eight games Wednesday.