Springer returns, goes yard to beat Giants

Springer returns, goes yard to beat Giants

HOUSTON -- George Springer returned to the Astros lineup after missing six games because of a concussion and blasted a solo homer off Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth inning to break a tie and send Houston to a 4-3 win over the Giants on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

"I just think everybody was happy because we had the lead at that point in time," Springer said. "It was one of those things that it's a big hit in a big spot and everybody was excited."

Affeldt hadn't allowed a home run to a right-handed batter since June 18, 2013, when San Diego's Jesus Guzman connected off him.

"It was the one time I couldn't get the sinker to sink," Affeldt said of the fateful 3-2 pitch to Springer. "I looked at it on video. It looked like it almost came back to the plate rather than drop down."

Springer, Gregerson on 4-3 win

Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer, making his season debut after battling with a blister on his left index finger, lasted only three innings when the protective layer of skin over the blister peeled away. Giants starter Tim Hudson took a no-decision after giving up three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Buster Posey's two-run homer in the fifth off Sam Deduno put the Giants ahead, 3-1, but the Astros tied it on solo shots by Jason Castro in the fifth and Luis Valbuena in the sixth. Chad Qualls worked a scoreless eighth inning for the win, and Luke Gregerson pitched around a leadoff double in the ninth for his eighth save.

Gregerson earns the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Oberholtzer's return abbreviated: Oberholtzer's first start of the season after spending nearly two months recovering from a blister went awry when he left the game after three innings when the protective layer of skin over the blister peeled away. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. More >

Oberholtzer strikes out Belt

Untimely hitting: The Giants hit safely in each of the first six innings, but five of their nine hits in that stretch came with two outs. That created several lukewarm rallies. Then the offense shut down entirely, as the Giants were blanked in the final four innings.

"I thought we should have had two or three more runs earlier," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Running on empty: The Giants tried to generate an eighth-inning run -- while staying out of a double play -- by ordering a hit-and-run with Brandon Belt on first base, one out, Casey McGehee at bat and Qualls, who doesn't employ an especially quick delivery, on the mound for Houston. But McGehee, who entered the game tied for the Major League lead in grounding into double plays, swung and missed. Belt was thrown out, adding to the Giants' frustration.

Brandon Crawford renewed the Giants' hopes in the ninth with a leadoff double. But he tried to advance to third base on Nori Aoki's grounder to shortstop and was thrown out.

"Our execution got us tonight," Bochy said. "Those little things -- productive outs, the missed hit-and-run, those things catch up with you in a close ballgame." More >

Heady play by Villar: After Crawford led off the ninth with a double as the tying run, Jonathan Villar made a nice play when he fielded Aoki's grounder and threw to third baseman Luis Valbuena to cut down Crawford.

"I think he stayed under control and delivered a clean throw to Valbuena for that out," Hinch said. "I mean, the game's slowing down for him, which is nice to see." More >

Villar throws out Crawford

QUOTABLE
"Yeah, we missed George. We're happy to have George back like we talked about pregame. More than energy, his swing. And he drew the walk, too. He had a good night. It was nice to have him back and make sure he didn't hurt anybody coming back into the dugout after that homer. All in all, that was a big win for us." -- Hinch.

Hinch on Springer, 4-3 win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros are 13-0 in games in which they hit more than one home run.

REPLAY REVIEW
The Giants successfully challenged a fourth-inning decision in which Houston's Jake Marisnick was initially ruled to have beaten out a grounder to third baseman McGehee, who made a one-hop throw to first base. Replays confirmed that Marisnick actually was out, causing the call to be overturned.

Giants challenge, overturned

Bochy spoke up again in the eighth inning after Belt was thrown out on an attempted theft of second base. Replays confirmed the call on the field.

Belt out at second confirmed

WHAT'S NEXT
Giants: Tim Lincecum, who has thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings, will try to lengthen his streak against Cincinnati, his personal nemesis, in Thursday's 4:10 p.m. PT opener of a four-game series. Lincecum's 0-4 with a 9.79 ERA in six career starts against the Reds. With 1,672 strikeouts, Lincecum needs six to pass Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell for fourth on the all-time franchise list.

Astros: Veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez makes his seventh start of the season to open a four-game series against the Blue Jays at 7:10 p.m. CT Thursday at Minute Maid Park. Hernandez is coming off his best start of the season, throwing 7 2/3 innings and allowing two runs and six hits with no walks.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.