Astros sink Braves, off to franchise-best start

Astros sink Braves, off to franchise-best start

HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa's two-run double, the first of his two extra-base hits on the day, keyed a three-run fifth inning and lifted the Astros to a 4-2 win over the Braves on Wednesday.

By winning both games of the two-game set at Minute Maid Park, the Astros (23-11) are off to their best 34-game start since the franchise began in 1962.

"We have what, 34, almost 35 games now?" Correa said. "I don't think we need any more tests. We're very confident and playing really good baseball. I think we have a great team, and we're going to be able to be successful if we keep doing what we're doing."

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Correa and other #ASGWorthy players

Houston starter Joe Musgrove (2-3) survived fourth-inning home runs by Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia, and he was aided by the Astros turning three double plays. Musgrove gave up four hits over his six innings. Atlanta starter Jaime Garcia (1-2), who retired his first eight batters, walked five and allowed six hits in six innings.

Astros turn two in the 1st

"My sinker was better today," Musgrove said. "I was able to get some quick outs with that, and then the slider. If I can command the inside part of the plate with that sinker, it makes the slider a lot more effective, and I was able to get some good contact and try to keep us in the game as long as I could.

The homers by Freeman and Garcia gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. Freeman led off the fourth with a blast to left-center for his 12th home run of the season. It traveled 390 feet with a launch angle of 30 degrees, leaving the bat at 101 mph, according to Statcast™. Garcia's fourth homer of the year was hit at 98 mph and traveled 356 feet at an angle of 27 degrees.

Freeman's opposite-field jack

"The Freeman home run was a 'tip your hat' moment," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The Garcia homer was a missed pitch, but [Musgrove] didn't let losing the lead get to him. I thought he battled and didn't cave after the two home runs. Very, very gutsy performance."

• Another solo shot for Freeman

In losing its sixth straight, Atlanta was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"Again, we're having a hard time getting that big hit," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's a rough go right now in everything."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two-out magic: Jaime Garcia appeared to be on cruise control with two outs in the fifth inning, having allowed just one run on four hits to that point. He had walked three, but a pair of timely double plays -- including one hit into by George Springer in the fifth -- kept Houston's strong offense in check. But with two outs and none on, the Astros broke through with a timely rally to grab control of the game. An opposite-field single from Carlos Beltran and a walk by Jose Altuve set the table for Correa, who roped a double to deep left, scoring both baserunners to give Houston a 3-2 lead. Two batters later, following a walk to Evan Gattis, Yuli Gurriel chopped a single to center to score Correa, extending the lead to 4-2.

Gurriel's RBI single to center

"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Correa said of his crucial at-bat. "He hung a slider over the middle of the plate, and I was able to drive it for us to take the lead."

"For the most part I was able to keep us in the ballgame, but it wasn't our inning," Garcia said. "You got to limit the damage." More >

Harris strikes out the side late: Astros setup man Will Harris has been outstanding out of the bullpen this year, sporting a team-best 1.17 ERA among pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings. Nonetheless, it was a challenge for him to build upon that figure Wednesday. With Houston clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth, Atlanta got a leadoff single by Dansby Swanson on a misplayed fly ball and a bunt single by No. 9 hitter Emilio Bonifacio, placing two on with none out for the top of Atlanta's order. But Harris struck out both Ender Inciarte and Brandon Phillips swinging, and after issuing a walk to Freeman to load the bases and move the potential tying run into scoring position, Harris struck out cleanup hitter Matt Kemp swinging on a curveball in the dirt to keep Houston in front.

Harris K's Kemp to escape jam

"It happened pretty quick," Harris said of the inning. "I just kind of looked up and there were two guys on, and I had to buckle down and make some pitches."

"With Will, I trust him with the ball in his hand in critical moments," Hinch said. "Those were exactly the reasons why, because he doesn't concede, and he makes pitches."

QUOTABLE
"They're known to kind of chase out of the zone a lot, so I was attempting to get ahead early and then try to put them away and see if they'd chase. They didn't chase as much as I was expecting, so I kind of had to alter the gameplan a bit." -- Musgrove, on the Braves, who drew four walks on the day and forced Houston's hurlers to alter their approach

WINNING WAYS
Houston's 23rd win of the season bests the franchise's previous record through 34 games by the 1999, '73 and '72 clubs, who all started 22-12. The Astros did not win their 23rd game of 2016 until May 30.

STREAKING KEMP
With his fourth-inning single, Kemp extended his season-long hitting streak to 11 games. It's Kemp's longest streak since hitting in 12 straight from Sept. 7-20, 2016. He's batting .354 (17-for-48) with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs in this current run. Houston's Alex Bregman went 0-4, bringing his 10-game hitting streak to an end.

Kemp's single extends streak

WHAT'S NEXT
Braves: Following Thursday's off-day, the Braves continue their road trip with three games at Miami, starting on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Winless in four decisions, Mike Foltynewicz gets the start for the Braves.

Astros: The Astros will be throwing their ace, Dallas Keuchel, against the Yankees in Thursday's four-game series opener in New York. The left-handed Keuchel is 5-0 on the season, and he is 4-2 lifetime against the Yankees in five regular-season starts and one in postseason. Righty Michael Pineda (3-1) starts for New York.

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

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston who covered the Braves on Wednesday.

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston who covered the Astros on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.