Indians fall to Astros, 4-1, in series opener

HOUSTON (AP) — Charlie Morton doesn’t think he’s pitched that well this season.

After another strong outing Friday night, that’s hard to believe.

Morton pitched seven solid innings, Tony Kemp had a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh and the Houston Astros beat the Cleveland Indians 4-1 for their third straight win.

“I thought it was OK,” Morton said. “I thought I made some really good pitches and I thought I got away with some really bad pitches.”

Morton (6-0) allowed one run and four hits with eight strikeouts in extending his career-high winning streak to nine straight dating back to last September. He lowered his ERA to 1.94.

“I think I’m surprised at how effective my four-seamer is and it’s made my job easier,” Morton said. “I don’t feel like I’m really pitching that well. I’m not really executing a ton of pitches. My stuff is playing in the zone pretty well.”

Morton retired 19 of the first 21 batters.

“Really good fastball, really good breaking ball, occasional split and really just one pitch that leaked over the middle of the plate to (Edwin) Encarnacion,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “I’m really happy that our team responded and he got the win. But an excellent performance and very methodical for him of the way he’s been pitching.”

After Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger (3-1) walked Marwin Gonzalez and Derek Fisher to lead off the seventh, Brian McCann popped out before Kemp hit his RBI ground-rule double down the right-field line to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

“I was just trying to put something in play right there,” Kemp said. “I just got a heater I could handle and luckily it stayed within the line.”

George Springer followed with a grounder to Kipnis, but Fisher beat the throw home.

“That’s unfortunate that happened,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of the two walks to leadoff the seventh. “I didn’t think he just shied away though. I think he just missed his spots.”

Evan Gattis added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Springer gave the Astros a 1-0 lead with a solo home run to left in the third.

Edwin Encarnacion tied it in the seventh with a solo home run to right. The Indians have lost three of their last four.

Chris Devenski pitched the eighth, inducing a popup by Yonder Alonso to strand the bases loaded. Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

Clevinger allowed three runs, eight hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

“More of a tip of the cap to the defense,” Clevinger said. “I feel like I was kind of erratic at times. I made some pitches, and the defense was there to back me up.”

Clevinger has allowed fewer than three runs in each of his last four starts.


The Astros held a moment of silence prior to the game and flew the Texas flags at Minute Maid Park at half-staff in support of the victims and their families connected to the shooting that killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School earlier in the day. Santa Fe is roughly 30 miles southeast of Houston.


Indians RHP Trevor Bauer wrote the name “Tyler” on a piece of tape and put it above Bauer on the back of his jersey. Bauer had a Twitter fight with several Astros players earlier this month after insinuating their pitchers were using sticky substances. Astros SS Alex Bregman replied to Bauer on Twitter, calling him Tyler. Bauer later denied that he was accusing the Astros of cheating.


“There’s not much room for error. They are pretty loaded top to bottom. We are right there from top to bottom. We are right there with them. There’s not anything they have that we don’t have. They aren’t that special.” – Clevinger said of the Astros’ lineup.


Astros: OF Josh Reddick was scratched from the lineup about 2 1/2 hours before first pitch with left leg irritation.


Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (6-2) will make his tenth start of the season in the second game of the three-game series Saturday. Kluber has allowed three runs or fewer in every start this season and each of his last 21 starts dating back to last season.

Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-5) takes the mound Saturday looking for his third straight win. Keuchel, who is 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his career against the Indians, has gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts.