CLEVELAND -- Astros outfielder Preston Tucker celebrated his 25th birthday in style Monday night, setting a career high with four hits and finishing a triple shy of the cycle to pace a 16-hit attack in a 9-4 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Tucker, whose playing time has increased with George Springer on the disabled list due to a fractured right wrist, became the first player to get four or more hits on his birthday since Jacoby Ellsbury on Sept. 11, 2012. The only other Astros player to do it was Jeff Bagwell vs. the Cardinals on May 27, 2003.
"It's pretty cool," Tucker said. "The last thing I was thinking about was whether it was my birthday or not. We got [Indians starter Carlos] Carrasco we've got to worry about, but I think we swung the bats pretty well. Once I got my first knock and everyone else was hitting it got kind of contagious and everyone started barreling up balls."
Tucker had just four hits in his previous 23 at-bats coming into Monday. He made his Major League debut May 7 and hit .306 with two homers and eight RBIs in May before slumping to .189 with two homers and nine RBIs in June.
"He's using all parts of the field again," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He got a little pull happy the last couple of weeks and I think it hurt him. He's getting back to using the middle of the field. He's gotten a couple of base hits to left. He's beaten the shift a couple of times, which is important.
"He got a changeup and did damage. He didn't overswing. That's the guy we saw when he first got called up, and he went through a little bit of a dry spell. It's big for us to get that kind of production out of him now that his playing time is increasing."
Tucker said he started pulling off the ball, but felt he swung the bat well this weekend in Boston.
"I know my numbers probably didn't show it, but I was going a lot the other way and barreled up some balls, and it set the tone for this game of the series," he 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.