ROYALS SWEEP ASTROS

Hunter Brown's early exit sets tone as Royals sweep Astros

Astros Hunter Brown
Hunter Brown couldn't get out of the first inning. Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images.

Bobby Witt Jr. had four hits, including two home runs, and five RBIs and the Kansas City Royals used a nine-run first inning to defeat the Houston Astros 13-3 Thursday to complete a three-game sweep and extend their winning streak to seven games.

Vinnie Pasquantino, who came into Wednesday's game hitting .108 with no RBIs, was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and now is hitting .222 with eight RBIs.

The Royals completed a perfect seven-game homestand against the White Sox and Astros. It's just the third time in franchise history they've played at least seven games on a homestand without a loss. The other two: seven games in 1988 and eight games in 1985, the year they won their first World Series.

Brady Singer (2-0) allowed one run and five hits in five innings.

Hunter Brown (0-2) got only two outs, but allowed nine runs and 11 hits.

The Royals sent 15 men to the plate in the first inning, tying a club record with 11 hits in the inning (also set in 1986 and 2006). It was the second straight game they've batted around in an inning, sending 11 men to the plate in a seven-run inning Wednesday night.

Maikel Garcia (two singles), Witt (a single and a homer) and Pasquantino (two singles) each had two hits and two RBIs in the first inning. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit in the inning except Kyle Isbel.

The Astros had baserunners in nearly every inning, but got only a solo home run in the fourth from Yainer Diaz and a pair of runs in the sixth, snapping a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak by the Royals bullpen.

TRAINING ROOM

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander is scheduled for another rehab start this weekend prior to his potential return to the rotation. He's been on the injured list with a right shoulder issue. ... Manager Joe Espada said LHP Framber Valdez averted the worst-case scenario with elbow soreness that put him on the IL on Monday. “The soreness is pretty much all gone,” Espada said. “Now it’s time to let him play catch in the next few days and get him built up.”

UP NEXT

Astros: return to Houston for a six-game homestand against Texas and Atlanta. RHP J.P. Franco (0-1, 4.78 ERA) will take the mound Friday against RHP Dane Dunning (1-1, 4.15 ERA) for Texas.

Royals: go on a six-game road trip to New York and Chicago. RHP Michael Wacha (1-0, 2.25 ERA) will start Friday against the Mets' RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 3.60 ERA).

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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