McHugh steadies after first-inning mistake

Early three-run homer only damage as Astros righty completes six frames

McHugh steadies after first-inning mistake

DENVER -- Astros right-hander Collin McHugh returned to form in Thursday's 8-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field, but not before giving up a three-run homer to Carlos Gonzalez in the first inning. McHugh was impressive the rest of the way.

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McHugh, who had struggled for much of the past six weeks, gave the Astros a quality start by allowing three runs and four hits -- only two of which came after the first inning -- in six innings to win for only the second time since May 22.

"It was tough; it was a battle," McHugh said. "I walked some guys, and they put some pretty good swings on the ball and put together some pretty good at-bats. I was able to find my four-seam fastball a little bit more up in the zone, just to be able to challenge guys a little bit better. All day, they had guys on base, until the fifth or sixth. Props to those guys. They've got a good lineup, but our guys battled. You've seen it all year."

After giving up eight runs and nine hits in his previous outing, on Saturday against the Mariners, McHugh set out to let loose with his fastball. He struck out eight batters, achieving his third-highest total this year.

"I was throwing fastballs riding up through the zone, which is what you're looking for when things are struggling a little bit," McHugh said. "You want to let it loose a little bit and see what you can get. You can get some bad swings on fastballs; it makes you feel better and have a little more confidence."

Gonzalez hit an 0-2 pitch for a three-run homer to give the Rockies a 3-1 lead in the first, but McHugh weathered the storm to improve to 7-3.

"I know he was very frustrated with the pitch to CarGo, but again, six innings, three runs -- that's still a good outing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.