Astros finding ways to win without home runs

Winning rally against Blue Jays shows club can string together quality at-bats

Astros finding ways to win without home runs

HOUSTON -- For the second time in a week, the Astros showed there are other wrinkles to their offense late in games besides hitting home runs. They sent eight batters to the plate in the seventh inning Thursday night and scored four times to rally to beat the Blue Jays, 6-4, at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros have relied heavily upon the long ball this season -- they lead the American League in home runs with 49 -- but pieced together the kind of extended rally that manager A.J. Hinch would like to see more of this summer.

"When we're good, we have a lot of at-bats in a row that are quality plate appearances," he said. "It's not like they weren't trying to have quality at-bats the last 10 days or so."

Astros' four-run 7th

Trailing, 4-2, the Astros began the seventh against reliever Aaron Loup with a Jason Castro single and a Chris Carter walk. Rookie Preston Tucker (3-for-4) doubled into the left-field corner for an RBI, and the Astros had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

Shortstop Jonathan Villar drove them both in with a chopper over the head of first baseman Edwin Encarnacion for a double that put the Astros ahead, 5-4. Villar then scored from third when Jose Altuve, who was intentionally walked, stole second and the ball rolled away after hitting off his knee.

Astros on comeback win

"It starts with a leadoff hit, and we got a few breaks," Hinch said. "We had a chopper over the infield, a lot of good things happened that inning. We steal a base, steal a run and putting up a four-spot was huge, obviously, in this game, but more so for our offense that needed a reminder we can put that type of inning together."

The Astros had a similar rally May 7 in Anaheim against the Angels, scoring three in the ninth on three singles, a walk and a wild pitch. They are 6-5 in games in which they don't hit home runs.

"We had a lot of walks [six] tonight, guys on base," Tucker said. "You know, I think, obviously, the inning was huge for us, but when you come from behind and win, that's even better. I think everyone's having fun right now."

Tucker's three-hit night

Hinch said Tucker might see more playing time if he keeps swinging the bat like he did Thursday.

"The opportunities are so few and far between when you're a young player like that, and, obviously, he earned his keep by the quality at-bats he had in Anaheim," Hinch said. "We kept him on the team when we had to make a move [when George Springer was activated], and he responds with really good at-bats."

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.