Verlander improves to 6-2 as Astros beat Giants 4-1

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman (2) fields the hit by San Francisco Giants Evan Longoria as shortstop Carlos Correa (1) backs the play during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) A lack of run support during the last month didn’t worry Justin Verlander.

”Runs come and go,” he would say.

Verlander allowed one run and three hits in six innings, leading the Houston Astros over the San Francisco Giants 4-1 on Wednesday.

He had given up just three runs over 29 innings during his previous four starts, but the Astros had scored just three runs in that span, getting shut out twice.

”It felt nice,” Verlander said. ”You’ve just got to continue to go about your business, keep your team in the game and good things happen.”

Verlander struck out nine and walked one, and his major league-leading ERA rose slightly to 1.08.

George Springer hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fifth on a 93 mph fastball from Jeff Samardzija (1-3), driving the ball off the facade above the left-field seats. Carlos Correa added an RBI single later in the inning.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Verlander didn’t have his best stuff. Pitching on six days’ rest, Verlander struggled with his slider command.

”I was probably a little rusty,” he said. ”But overall was able to execute pitches when I needed to against a really good lineup that makes you work hard.”

Will Harris, Brad Peacock and Ken Giles each followed with a one-hit inning. Giles remained perfect in nine save chances.

Samardzija allowed four runs, four hits and a season-high five walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly put San Francisco ahead in the fourth following Gorkys Hernandez’s triple. Houston tied the score in the bottom half when Correa came around from first as right fielder Andrew McCutchen allowed Yuli Gurriel’s fly ball near the foul line to drop behind his glove for an error.

Houston completed a two-game sweep started on Tuesday by Gerrit Cole, whose 1.86 ERA is second in the AL to Verlander’s.

”You know that you’ve got your hands full to try and get some runs,:” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve had steals as the Astros were aggressive on the bases against catcher Nick Hundley. Bregman and Tony Kemp also were caught stealing.

Following a career-high five RBIs on Tuesday night, Kemp went 1 for 1 with a pair of walks.

”When Tony Kemp is getting on base at the rate that he is, he really sets the table,” Hinch said. ”It’s like a second leadoff hitter getting on base in front of a middle-of-the-order bat that we have as our leadoff hitter. It clearly is an advantage when anybody at the bottom of the order is getting base.”

FOR STARTERS

At 32-18 through 50 games, the Astros are off to their second-best start in franchise history behind last year’s 34-16. Houston’s 126 runs allowed are the fewest by a major league team through 50 games in the live-ball era, dating to 1920.

CROSS-SPORT

The Giants left wearing Golden State Warriors gear and ”Strength In Numbers” T-shirts, just a few miles from where the Warriors were practicing in preparation for Thursday night’s Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Rockets. ”It’s cool to show some support for the hometown team that I think a lot of guys are pretty close to with watching and being here for so long and both teams having so much success over the past few years,” Samardzija said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner, on the DL since spring training with a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, manager Bruce Bochy said. He threw 30 pitches on Tuesday in his first action against hitters since he was injured.

Astros: OF Josh Reddick was put on the 10-day DL with an infection in his left leg. Reddick was in and out of the lineup over the past week with soreness above the knee. Houston recalled OF Jake Marisnick, who was just optioned to Triple-A Fresno on May 16 after hitting .141 with three homers and seven RBIs in 85 at-bats.

UP NEXT

Giants: Derek Holland (2-5, 4.94 ERA) will open a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Friday. Holland allowed four runs on six hits in six innings against Colorado in his last start and hasn’t faced the Cubs since 2013.

Astros: Charlie Morton (6-0, 1.94 ERA) will face the Indians on Thursday to open a four-game series in Cleveland. In his most recent outing, also against the Indians, Morton allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight and walking one in seven innings.

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