Astros halt Tigers behind McCullers, triple play

Astros halt Tigers behind McCullers, triple play

DETROIT -- Lance McCullers earned his first Major League victory in the same city where his father earned his next-to-last Major League win 25 years ago. His six quality innings, helped by a fifth-inning triple play, allowed the Houston Astros to piece together a go-ahead rally in the sixth for a 3-2 win over the Tigers Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.

McCullers (1-0), whose father, Lance McCullers Sr., pitched for the Tigers in 1990, survived an Anthony Gose RBI double in the third inning and a James McCann double and score in the fifth to toss six innings of two-run ball on six hits with an intentional walk and six strikeouts. He avoided add-on runs in the fifth when Jonathan Villar, Jose Altuve and Chris Carter turned a triple play on an Ian Kinsler grounder with Miguel Cabrera on deck.

"That was just the perfect spot for it," Kinsler said. "There's nothing you can really do about that, just a one-hopper right on top of the base. It was basically a perfect ball for a triple play. It wasn't a good way to end the inning."

Houston's usual homer-happy hitting attack, meanwhile, churned out offense on smaller hits to send Kyle Lobstein (3-5) to his third straight loss. Marwin Gonzalez doubled and came around on a Jake Marisnick groundout and Altuve sacrifice fly in the third before four straight two-out singles in the sixth -- capped by Gonzalez's go-ahead grounder through the middle off Al Alburquerque -- put the Astros in front.

Gonzalez's RBI single

Iglesias, Kinsler double up Springer: George Springer hadn't grounded into a double play since May 25, 2014. It took a highlight flip from Kinsler on a ball up the middle, followed by a masterful turn by Jose Iglesias to pull it off, erasing a first-inning baserunner and allowing Lobstein to settle in. More >

Tigers turn two

Tripled up: The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the fifth after two hits and an error by Altuve and were primed to add more with no outs, but Kinsler hit into a 5-4-3 triple play to quickly end the threat. It was Houston's first triple play since Aug. 19, 2004 at Philadelphia, and the first triple play hit by the Tigers since May 20, 2009 against Texas.

"At that point, the game is in the balance there with Kinsler up, Cabrera and Martinez after him, no outs, the bullpen getting ready," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had a lot of action going, and then Kinsler hits it to the perfect spot for that type of play to happen. We executed it, and it shifted a lot more smiles in our dugout after that, because we'd been grinding through a rough game with a couple errors a missed opportunities. That was a big play."

Two-out hitting: In the frame following the triple play, the Astros took a 3-2 lead in the sixth with four straight two-out singles, including a runner advancing to third on a throwing error. The go-ahead hit came from Gonzalez.

"He waited for a slider, so I tried to throw a fastball," reliever Alburquerque said. "It's not a bad pitch. He made the adjustment."

Gose waits too long: Gose thought he had a home run to straightaway center in the third and didn't speed up until it became apparent to him that the ball was headed off the wall. The extra steps might have cost him a chance at a triple, which may have allowed him to score on McCullers' intentional-walk wild pitch to Cabrera.

Gose's run-scoring double

"This is a big park," Gose said. "I won't be jogging ever again, not [on a ball] to CF. You'd better be a grown man to hit it out of here."

"Shaving cream, ketchup, I'm not really sure what else." -- McCullers, on the celebration by Astros teammates for his first career win

McCullers strikes out six

The last time the Tigers hit into a triple play, Kinsler was involved in it, too. He was the Rangers' second baseman who caught Gerald Laird's line drive with Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn on the move.

The very first pitch of the game resulted in a challenge when Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was called safe at first on ground ball to shortstop. Perhaps Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was tipped off by Altuve, who initially headed back to the dugout before the call. After a 50-second review, Altuve was called out. It was the fourth call overturned in eight challenges for Ausmus this season.

Tigers get out after review

Iglesias left the game with a left knee contusion after a knee-on-knee collision at first base. Iglesias had the makings of a big day with another highlight double play in the first inning and infield singles in the third and fifth. On the first single, however, he banged knees with Astros first baseman Carter as he ran out a dribbler down the first-base line. He is day to day, according to the Tigers. More >

Iglesias hurt on Gose's RBI

Astros: Houston sends Roberto Hernandez to the mound against a familiar foe on Sunday at 12:08 p.m. CT. Hernandez is 8-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 21 appearances against the Tigers in his career, including eight starts.

Tigers: Anibal Sanchez, who gave up three consecutive home runs in his last start, meets up with an Astros offense that leads the Majors in homers. He takes a 3-5 record and 5.60 ERA into Sunday's 1:08 p.m. ET series finale at Comerica Park.

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

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Chris Vannini is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.