Altuve's big game lifts Astros over Indians 3-1
HOUSTON (AP) Jose Altuve continues to pile up hits and help the Houston Astros win.
Altuve had three hits to give him 209 this season and drove in two runs, leading the Astros to a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
The major league hits leader is just one hit shy of tying the franchise record of 210, set by Craig Biggio in 1998.
''He's a magician with the wand,'' interim manager Tom Lawless said. ''I've seen it a long time, but seeing it up close and personal, it's amazing what he can do with the bat in his hand.''
Houston has won five of its last eight games and with 67 wins has already made a 16-game improvement from last year's franchise-worst 51-111 finish with 12 games left.
''I feel really good,'' Altuve said. ''We are in a good moment. We are creating some momentum and we are winning games.''
Cleveland's wild-card hopes continue to fade with a fourth straight loss. They entered the night five games back for the second AL wild card.
''We're in this thing until they tell me we're out of it,'' left fielder Michael Brantley said. ''That's how I look at it. That is how everyone in this locker room looks at it. We need to score more runs, we need to play better baseball. There is no other way to put it.''
The Astros trailed by one in the third inning with runners at second and third when Altuve's single scored them both to put Houston up 2-1.
Houston starter Collin McHugh (10-9) allowed five hits and one run - none earned - in 6 2-3 innings, to extend his career-best winning streak to six games. He left after taking a comebacker to his left arm in the seventh.
He was able to get the ball to first for an out on the play before leaving with what the team called a bruised forearm. He said after the game that he was OK and that he didn't expect to miss his next start.
''He had a really, really good breaking ball,'' Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. ''He threw it a lot, he threw it for strikes. He had a little cutter that got under our barrel. I thought he pitched really well.''
Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save.
Indians starter Zach McAllister (3-7) allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings in his first major league start since July 31.
Altuve, whose .342 average leads the majors, has a career-high 54 RBIs and Monday was his 63rd multhit game of the season, which extends a franchise record.
He singled in the fifth and his third hit was a triple to the right field corner in the eighth inning. The Astros added an insurance run when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler in the eighth.
Chris Carter, who is third in the majors with 36 home runs, went 0 for 4 on Monday to snap a career-high 12-game hitting streak.
Indians: OF Ryan Raburn missed a second straight game after leaving Saturday's game with a hyperextended left knee. Raburn traveled with the team to Houston, Francona said he might need to go back to Cleveland to be evaluated. ''He's still pretty tender, pretty sore,'' Francona said. ''The fact that he came in and was still pretty tender we need to get him looked at.'' He said he'd have more information on Tuesday.
Astros: The team still hasn't decided if OF George Springer (left quadriceps strain) will play again this season. The rookie has been out since July 20. ''If he's totally healthy then we have no problem (playing him), Lawless said. ''To be over-cautious is probably better than to be under-cautious at this time.''
Houston's Nick Tropeano will make his second major league start against right-hander Corey Kluber in the second game of the four-game series. Tropeano allowed two runs in five innings to get the win in his debut on Wednesday. Kluber's 15 wins this season are the most for the Indians since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008.