Springer sparks Astros to 8-5 win over Diamondbacks
PHOENIX (AP) George Springer has taken to the leadoff role these past eight games, lashing singles, homers, finding ways to get on base.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch isn't sure if it's in his head or his mechanics and he doesn't care. He just wants Springer to keep doing what he's doing for the surging Astros.
Springer finished a triple shy of the cycle and had four RBIs to spark Houston from the leadoff spot, lifting the Astros to an 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
''His job is to be a good hitter first and what comes with that is a better hitter than when he tries to do too much, when he tries to get too big,'' Hinch said.
Springer has excelled since moving into the leadoff spot, going 17 for 35 with three home runs. He doubled on the first pitch of Tuesday's game, hit a three-run homer off Patrick Corbin (2-5) in the second inning and added a run-scoring single off the left-hander in the fourth.
Springer scored twice and Luis Valbuena homered for the Astros, who had 12 hits to win for the seventh time in eight games.
Lance McCullers (2-1) had control issues at times, but limited the damage in five innings.
Jean Segura hit a two-run double off Scott Feldman in the ninth inning, but Luke Gregerson struck out the side for his 13th save.
The Astros still may be near the bottom of the AL West, but they're making up ground quickly after finishing May 17-12.
''We're playing with more confidence, it's simple as that,'' McCullers said. ''We have guys taking confident ABs, guys pitching with confidence and we're starting to hit on all points of the game when we need to, which is nice to see.''
The Diamondbacks are not.
Arizona had an opportunity to put McCullers on the ropes in the first inning, but left the bases loaded. The Diamondbacks let another opportunity slip away in the fifth inning, managing just one run after loading the bases with one out.
''When we have runners in scoring position, there are times when our at-bats aren't as good as other times,'' Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. ''It's stuff we're working on.''
Corbin labored out of the gate, starting with Springer's double. Arizona's left-hander needed 24 pitches to get through the first inning, but managed to keep the Astros from scoring.
McCullers had even more trouble in the bottom half, leading to a 33-minute opening frame. Arizona had three hits in the inning and scored two runs, on Jake Lamb's single and Chris Herrmann's fielder's choice.
McCullers steadied himself. Corbin did not.
McCullers had his first big league hit - a sharp single to left - off Corbin in the second inning and Springer followed with a three-run homer just over the wall in right for a 3-2 lead.
Jake Marisnick added a run-scoring single off Corbin in the fourth inning and Springer chased him with another to left.
Corbin allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
''Everything wasn't in synch,'' Corbin said after throwing so many pitches in the first inning. ''Maybe you try to use your body more and your arm is behind. It's just something I had to work out.''
McCullers started having control issues in the fifth inning, walking two and allowing a run to score on a wild pitch before striking out Herrmann with runners on second and third.
He allowed three runs and six hits, with seven strikeouts and four walks.
''Every single first inning I've been in this year has been a chore,'' McCullers said. ''I get frustrated because I know I have good stuff. You saw it in the second, third, fourth. It kind of left me in the fifth, but I regained it.''
Valbuena put Houston up 8-2 by hitting Randall Delgado's first pitch of the fifth inning over the wall in right.
Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt had his first three-hit game since last Aug. 22, against Cincinnati. ... Marisnick has seven hits his last four games after having six his first 28. ... Altuve is 11 for 25 during a six-game hitting streak.
Astros: CF Carlos Gomez returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a bruised ribcage. He hit seventh and finished 1 for 3.
Diamondbacks: OF David Peralta, out since May 15 with a right wrist injury, could rejoin the team this weekend after taking batting practice before Tuesday's game.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers, Wednesday's starter against Arizona, gave up a season-high seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his last start.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray is 1-2 with a 2.63 ERA in five road starts heading into Wednesday's game at Houston.