Santana helps Astros to 8-4 win and sweep of Rockies
DENVER (AP) Domingo Santana couldn't even feel his feet touch the dirt as he strolled around the bases following his first big league homer.
Another clutch hit from a recent call-up. The pipeline of promising prospects just doesn't seem to end for the Houston Astros these days.
Preston Tucker homered and drove in three runs, Santana came through in a pinch-hitting role in the eighth and the Astros beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4 Thursday for their fifth straight win.
With that, Houston became the first team in the American League to win 40 games this season. Know what that means to manager A.J. Hinch?
''That we're winning a lot of games,'' Hinch said. ''But we need plenty more. It's a long season.''
Santana was recalled from Triple-A Fresno this week when Colby Rasmus went on the bereavement list following the death of his grandmother. Santana lined a hanging slider from Scott Oberg into the bullpen for a three-run homer, giving the Astros an 8-3 lead.
''It was emotional,'' Santana said of his first homer in the majors. ''Pretty excited.''
Their young squad keeps coming up big, especially at the top of the order. Leadoff hitter George Springer extended his hitting streak to 11 games as the Astros swept the four-game, home-and-home series with the reeling Rockies. Hitting right behind Springer, Carlos Correa stole three bases and then, in the No. 3 hole, Tucker came through time and again, including a homer in the first and a double in the fifth that scored the go-ahead run.
Cleanup hitter Chris Carter also drove in two runs as Houston improved to 8-1 in interleague play this season after going 5-15 a year ago.
''It never ceases to amaze me with this team,'' Hinch said. ''Different contributions all the way through.''
Collin McHugh (7-3) surrendered a three-run homer to Carlos Gonzalez in the first inning. After that, the right-hander was virtually unsolvable.
McHugh treated himself to an early birthday present by getting the win after allowing three runs, four hits and a season-high five walks in six innings. McHugh, who turns 28 on Friday, only surrendered two hits after Gonzalez's homer.
''I told him after his outing, `If I would've told you 2 1-2 hours ago that you were going to go six strong innings, you wouldn't have believed me,''' Hinch said.
David Hale (2-2) allowed a season-high five runs in five innings and struck out nine. Rockies pitchers struck out 17 batters, a Colorado record for a nine-inning game.
''That club's a bit of an enigma,'' manager Walt Weiss said of the Astros. ''They have a lot of power, a lot of athleticism, a lot of swing and miss. They have a real good bullpen and starting pitching. That's why they win games.''
Another home loss for the Rockies, who are now 13-20 at Coors Field.
''For us to be a good team we have to win at home,'' Troy Tulowitzki said.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
The Rockies signed two more of their draft picks Thursday, agreeing to deals with right-hander Mike Nikorak (27th overall pick) and infielder Tyler Nevin (38th). Nevin is the son of former major league infielder Phil Nevin, who was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by Houston in 1992.
Nikorak and Nevin will report to Grand Junction, the organization's rookie-level squad. Nikorak agreed to a $2.3 million bonus. The value assigned to his slot was $2,004,600.
DOWN AN UMP
Third base umpire Bob Davidson left in the third inning due to dehydration. The 62-year-old Davidson lives in Colorado.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (hamstring) wasn't in the starting lineup as he goes through treatment. ''He doesn't feel a lot of discomfort, which is an encouraging sign,'' Hinch said. ''We'll be very careful with him.'' ... Rasmus could be back with Houston on Saturday. ... OF Jake Marisnick left the game in the eighth with left hamstring discomfort. ''I'm not sure how he's going to be,'' Hinch said.
Rockies: RHP Brooks Brown was placed on the DL for a second time this season with shoulder inflammation. ... Weiss said there's no timetable yet for 1B Justin Morneau (concussion symptoms) to return.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (3-1, 2.00) makes his seventh big league start when the Astros begin a three-game series Friday in Seattle.
Rockies: Fresh off becoming the Rockies' all-time wins leader, LHP Jorge De La Rosa (4-2, 4.91) takes the mound Friday against Milwaukee.