Fifth inning proves costly for Lyles, Astros

Fifth inning proves costly for Lyles, Astros

Fifth inning proves costly for Lyles, Astros
HOUSTON -- It is during times like these you have to remember Jordan Lyles is still just 21 years old and the youngest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. In other words, you can still expect a few growing pains as he tries to figure things out.

Lyles has done enough to make the Astros believe he's close to establishing himself as the kind of arm they can trust every fifth day, but Saturday night was a reminder that development must come with patience.

The D-backs sent 12 batters to the plate and erupted for a season-high nine runs in the fifth inning, with Lyles giving up six runs without recording an out in the inning, to beat the Astros, 12-4, at Minute Maid Park.

Lyles lasted four-plus innings and allowed seven runs (five earned) and eight hits to lose his sixth consecutive decision. He chalked the performance up to bad fastball command.

"I really can't recall another outing like this for how poor I threw my fastball, and that's not me," he said. "Even before the fifth, my fastball command wasn't there. That wasn't me out there today, fastball-command-wise. I don't throw it hard enough, just throw it over the plate."

D-backs outfielder Chris Young, a Houston native, went 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs. He's hit safely in eight consecutive games against the Astros, going 12-for-31 during that span. He's hitting .419 in 15 games in his career at Minute Maid Park.

"When I go in the family room after this game, no matter what type of game I have, I feel like I'm one of the best players in the world, because that's the way they make me feel," Young said. "I think that positive energy carries over onto the field."

More often than not, Lyles' downfall this season has been the big inning -- especially the fifth. He stayed true to that script by not recording an out in the fifth and watching his season ERA in the inning balloon to 16.57. Opposing hitters are batting .376 against him the third time through the order.

"He had thrown the ball really well his last couple of times out, but there's a lot of times he has a problem getting out of an inning because of an error or a bad call by the umpire or something," said Brad Mills, who the Astros relieved of managerial duties late Saturday night, along with hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham. "We hoped the third inning was that inning."

The Astros were hoping Lyles had escaped his troublesome inning in the third, when a two-out throwing error by third baseman Brett Wallace opened the door to allow the D-backs to load the bases. Lyles got Miguel Montero to ground out, but wound up throwing 10 extra pitches.

Lyles pitched around a leadoff single in the fourth, getting a spectacular diving catch in center from Brandon Barnes in the process, before things unraveled in the fifth.

"I was lucky through the fourth inning with just one run," Lyles said. "I don't know if there's an answer for it. Maybe I'll turn the corner some day and not look back, but right now I have to work on it and get better from it and do a better job of keeping our team in the ballgame, unlike I did tonight."

Astros catcher Chris Snyder, who clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth to put the Astros ahead, 3-1, said it's a matter of making adjustments.

"They definitely cashed in when the ball got up in the zone," Snyder said. "The one inning there, that's where you've got to find something you do, whether step back and take a couple of deep breaths and relieve the situation and play a little damage control, and we weren't able to do that tonight."

Lyles allowed the first six batters he faced in the fifth to reach base on four hits and two walks, forcing the Astros to call on their bullpen. Justin Upton, Paul Goldschmidt and Young had RBI singles off Lyles in the inning.

Reliever Xavier Cedeno came into the game with the bases loaded and no outs, and he walked Stephen Drew to force in a run and make it 5-3. Ryan Wheeler followed with a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve, who had the ball go under his glove when he tried to backhand it. Two runs scored, pushing the D-backs' lead to 7-3.

Aaron Hill greeted reliever Chuckie Fick with a three-run homer to cap the scoring in the inning and give the D-backs a 10-3 advantage. Wheeler led off the seventh with a homer -- the first of his career -- and Young homered in the eighth inning off Rhiner Cruz.

The nine runs in the fifth were the most Arizona had scored in an inning since scoring seven against the Astros in the sixth inning of a July 22 game in Phoenix, and the second-most in franchise history.

"I have to do a better job of eating some innings when my stuff is not there and not letting the bullpen throw five innings," Lyles said.

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