Astros 6, Giants 3

J.D. Martinez wasted little time when he stepped into the

batter’s box after Barry Zito walked three consecutive batters to

open the third inning.

Martinez hit his first career grand slam to end an 0-for-12 skid

and the Houston Astros avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-3 win

over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

”He was making some mistakes, falling behind hitters and walked

three guys,” Martinez said. ”I knew he had to give me something

to hit. That was my mindset. I was going to be aggressive and go

for it.”

Matt Downs also homered and Justin Maxwell drove in a run for

the Astros, who dropped 13 of their previous 17 games – including a

10-0 loss Wednesday night when Giants ace Matt Cain pitched a

perfect game.

Jose Altuve had two hits and a walk. The young second baseman

ranks among the major league leaders in average and hits.

”We had to bounce back today and we had to get runs early,”

Downs said. ”Altuve set the tone early and got it over with. That

pumped all of us up.”

Wandy Rodriguez (6-4) went six innings to win his third straight

decision, allowing three runs and six hits. Brett Myers worked the

ninth for his 16th save in 17 opportunities.

”He was able to give us a quality start,” manager Brad Mills

said. ”That two-out home run was a little bit of a hiccup but,

it’s always nice to get at least one game in the series.”

Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer and Hector Sanchez added a

sacrifice fly for the Giants, who are 12-5 in their past 17

games.

Zito (5-4) lasted five innings, allowing five runs and five

hits. He walked three and struck out three in losing two straight

decisions for the first time this season.

”I screwed up making pitches and things happened after that,”

Zito said.

After tossing 8 1-3 shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs on

June 3, Zito has allowed nine runs and 14 hits in his last 11

innings.

”He was throwing the ball well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy

said. ”He allowed a solo home run and then got out of sync.”

Downs gave the Astros a 1-0 lead with his fourth homer of the

season with two outs in the second.

Zito walked Altuve, Brian Bixler and Jed Lowrie in succession to

open the third, setting up Martinez’s slam that traveled halfway up

the left-field bleachers. The left-hander has allowed four home

runs in his past two games after giving up four in his previous

eight.

”I was relieved I was able to come through for the team,”

Martinez said. ”We kept telling each other to attack them early

and score early.”

Maxwell’s two-out single in the eighth gave the Astros a 6-3

lead.

Belt’s third home run in three days put the Giants on the

scoreboard in the fourth. His two-run shot cleared the right-field

bleachers and landed in McCovey Cove.

Sanchez hit his sacrifice fly in the sixth.

NOTES: Giants 1B Aubrey Huff underwent an MRI to assess damage

in his bruised right knee, injured when he jumped over the dugout

railing after Cain’s perfect game. … Martinez has 13 RBIs in 10

games against the Giants. … Astros slugger Carlos Lee was slated

to start a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. … The

Astros have signed 26 of their 41 draft picks, including 15 of the

first 21. … Giants INF Joaquin Arias extended his career-best

hitting streak to eight games. … Altuve recorded his 28th

multihit game. … Martinez hit two grand slams in Double-A last

year.