Gattis slam sends Astros past KC 7-3 for 9th straight win

Houston Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis (11) celebrates his grand slam with teammates during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch watched his team load the bases in front of hot-hitting Evan Gattis, and all he wanted was the big designated hitter to send a drive to the outfield and keep the line moving.

Hinch had to settle for one that cleared the fence.

Cleared the bases, too.

Gattis crushed a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning Friday night, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa also went deep, and the Astros rolled past the Kansas City Royals 7-3 for their ninth straight win.

”We’re shaking hands after a lot of his at-bats,” Hinch said of Gattis, who has five homers in the first eight games of the Astros’ road trip. ”When guys are hot, there’s a ton of energy and a ton of fun.”

Charlie Morton (8-1) overcame another bout of wildness, at one point walking three straight batters, to last six innings for Houston. He allowed four hits and four walks while striking out nine.

Brad Peacock, Tony Sipp and Collin McHugh each contributed a scoreless inning in relief to wrap up the Astros’ latest win. All but one during their streak has come away from Minute Maid Park.

”I think our guys are just methodically going through their days,” Hinch said. ”This is a long road trip and it’s a lot more fun when you’re winning.”

The Royals, meanwhile, have lost four straight and 10 of 11.

Jakob Junis (5-7) served up all three Houston homers, getting tagged for six runs on seven hits and a walk. It was his fourth straight loss, his last win coming against the New York Yankees on May 18.

”We were putting some really good swings on it. We were hitting some balls hard,” Morton said with a grin. ”Really, I was just waiting for the dam to break.”

The Royals gave Junis some support early, jumping ahead 2-0 in the third on a two-out double by Mike Moustakas. It was a buoying at-bat considering the meek-hitting Kansas City lineup managed a single run in getting swept by Cincinnati during a two-game set this week.

It appeared the lead might stand, too, the way Junis breezed through the first three innings.

Bregman changed all that with his ninth homer of the season, a shot that just skirted the left-field foul pole. Correa added his 455-foot home run two batters later to tie the game.

Morton’s wildness allowed the Royals to regain the lead in the fifth, but Junis coughed it back up in the sixth. He gave up three straight one-out singles to load the bases for Gattis, whose soaring, 405-foot grand slam was the second of his career and third by the Astros this season.

It was also the second slam permitted by the Royals in their last two games.

”I was hoping we would get either a flyout or a mishit. I didn’t think I left it right over the plate,” Junis said. ”I thought it was up and away. He just put a good swing on it.”

ASTROS MOVES

Houston recalled 3B Tyler White from Triple-A Fresno and placed LHP Reymin Guduan on the paternity leave list. White was hitting .338 with 13 homers and a .444 on-base percentage, the second-highest in all of Triple-A. Guduan can miss no more than three games while on the paternity list.

ROYALS MOVES

Kansas City selected the contract of RHP Brandon Maurer from Triple-A Omaha and optioned RHP Jason Adam to the same club. Maurer was 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA for the Royals before he was sent outright to the minor league club on May 3. He’s worked 11 straight scoreless appearances at Omaha.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros RHP Joe Smith (elbow inflammation) rejoined the team, and Hinch said the reliever is ”pain free and the next step is to initiate a throwing program.” That could happen by the end of the weekend.

Royals OF Jorge Soler left after stumbling out of the batter’s box in the sixth. He was taken for X-rays that revealed a broken left foot. ”It will be awhile when your feet are hurt,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”They’re going to give it a CT scan or whatever. We’ll have a better idea. X-rays showed a positive break. We don’t think it’s a surgical thing right now. The CT scan will give us more of a look.”

UP NEXT

Struggling LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 4.45 ERA) starts for the Astros and LHP Danny Duffy (3-6, 5.28) gets the nod for the Royals for a Saturday matinee with temperatures expected to approach triple digits.

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