By Brittany Ghiroli and Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- The Astros rallied for four runs in the seventh inning, including bases-loaded hits by George Springer and Evan Gattis, to beat the Orioles, 5-2, in the series opener Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
"I think our guys, you know, they get a little more focus later in the game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We just get a little tighter focus as the game goes along."
Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez struck out eight in six-plus innings, allowing two runs and four hits, including a leadoff single by Chris Carter that sparked the Astros' seventh-inning rally. The other three runs were charged to reliever Brad Brach.
"It's tough. It's really tough [to watch]," said Jimenez, who watched a 2-1 lead slip away after he exited. "Of course you trust your guys that they're going to do everything possible to get them out. It's part of the game. Tonight didn't go our way."
Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer made his return to the Astros after a second stint on the disabled list with a blister and worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. Will Harris (2-0) retired all five batters he faced to get the win in relief and hasn't allowed a run in 19 of 20 appearances this year.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Astros come through in clutch: The Astros, who entered the game hitting .241 (7-for-29) with the bases loaded this year, came through in those situations twice in the seventh inning on an RBI single by Springer and a two-run single by Gattis. More >
"Just slowing everything down, and you just have to understand that they have to throw you something over the plate at some point and this is a hard game," said Springer, who delivered his hit on a 3-0 count. "So if you get something to hit, you've got to hit it. But I just think we have a good overall approach and have been able to execute it."
Ubaldo's quick hook: Jimenez, who entered the seventh inning having allowed only one run on three hits, was removed after a leadoff single by Carter despite having thrown just 91 pitches. Orioles manager Buck Showalter's move proved costly as reliever Brach struggled with his command and allowed two hits and two walks in a four-run frame that saw Houston take the lead. More >
"Wasn't really a comfort thing. I felt good. Just one of those nights," Brach said. "It's unfortunate because Ubaldo had such a good game. I come in there trying to get a double play and walk the leadoff guy, which puts myself in trouble."
Marwin makes play of the night: Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez robbed Manny Machado of a run-scoring hit when he ranged to his left to field a grounder, spun around and unleashed a two-bouncer to first for the final out in the fifth inning. More >
Young's gun:Delmon Young's defense was highlight-reel worthy on Monday night, as the right fielder threw out a pair of runners. Young nabbed Gonzalez at the plate to end the fifth and threw across the field to get Preston Tucker at third to end the seventh.
"We played a really good defensive game, otherwise they would have scored a lot more runs," Showalter said.
"Seemed like he couldn't get himself back in sync. Got in a little rut there and couldn't make adjustments. Something we thought he had gotten over." -- Showalter, on Brach
"It was a great team win. We came out playing good ball and pitched well, especially with Harris and Luke [Gregerson] coming in. The offense is relentless. They never give up." -- Oberholtzer, on the win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros have scored a Major League-best 94 runs in the seventh inning or later.
CASTRO LEAVES WITH INJURY
Astros catcher Jason Castro left the game in the seventh inning, two innings after being hit on the right knee with a pitch. Hinch said he's listed as day to day. More >
EMOTIONAL FIRST PITCH
Tyler Martin, the youngest son of fallen Houston police officer Richard Martin, delivered a strike to Jose Altuve before the game. Dozens of police officers were on the field to support Tyler. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Rookie Mike Wright will get the ball in his fourth career start on Tuesday against the Astros. Wright is coming off his worst outing, a five-inning stint on Thursday vs. the White Sox, but the young righty has still been solid for Baltimore. With Bud Norris slated to be back soon, this could be Wright's last chance to impress.
Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh will face the Orioles for the second consecutive start on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. He is looking to rebound from a subpar May in which he went 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA in six starts.