Dominguez helps lift Lyles' stellar outing

Dominguez helps lift Lyles' stellar outing

Dominguez helps lift Lyles' stellar outing

HOUSTON -- The Jordan Lyles who's dominating opposing lineups at 22 years old is the same pitcher, the same player he's ever been. At least, that's what Lyles repeatedly tells everyone who asks him why he suddenly seems to have turned his career around.

"I'm the same guy," he says, "just different results."

He maintains the confidence has always been there, along with the stuff. It was just a matter of putting everything together, and it certainly appears as though Lyles has found the secret formula, turned on the switch, or has done whatever you want to call it.

Lyles continued his stretch of impressive work by allowing one run and seven hits in seven innings Tuesday night and got plenty of run support as Carlos Pena belted a three-run homer and Matt Dominguez added his first career grand slam to lead the Astros to a 10-1 win over the Brewers at Minute Maid Park.

"I tell you, he's had some impressive outings," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I was actually even more impressed with him being able to go seven innings, and it didn't look from the dugout like he had his best stuff. That was a great example of the maturity taking place with Jordan Lyles. He grinded his way through seven innings, which is good to see."

Lyles, who struggled so mightily in the spring he lost what appeared to be a rock-solid spot in the rotation and had to begin the year in Triple-A, improved to 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last seven starts, holding opponents to two runs or fewer in each of those starts -- the longest such streak in the American League this year.

"I don't know what to say about me," he said. "Just making quality pitches."

Pena broke open a tight game with curling a three-run homer inside the right-field foul pole in the fifth inning, snapping his 0-for-17 drought with his first homer since June 5. Dominguez capped a career night by blasting the Astros' first grand slam in more than a year, stretching the lead to 10-1 in the seventh inning.

"I think this is what we're capable of doing," Pena said. "We're definitely capable of scoring some runs. Obviously, games like today will happen from time to time, but I truly believe on a consistent basis we can do something like this. I'm not talking about scoring 10 runs, but consistently putting up nice run support for our pitchers, and if they do what they're supposed to and give us a quality start that's the whole idea."

Dominguez became the first Astros player to drive in at least five runs since fellow third baseman Chris Johnson had six RBIs on May 2, 2012. He leads the team with 40 RBIs and is the third-youngest Astros player to have at least five RBIs in a game, behind Jeff Leonard and Cesar Cedeno.

"It's pretty cool," Dominguez said about the grand slam. "I had a chance earlier in the game to do it and I just missed the pitch. Fortunately, I had the same opportunity later and got a good pitch to hit and got a good swing on it."

Dominguez had a sac fly in the second inning and executed a perfect hit-and-run in the fourth inning to push Justin Maxwell to third, and Maxwell wound up scoring the go-ahead run on a Marwin Gonzalez squeeze bunt in his first game back to the lineup.

"Everybody's having good, quality at-bats and moving the guys over where we need to and Marwin had that squeeze bunt and it was great," Dominguez said. "Right now, everybody's having a pretty solid approach. We're not swinging at a lot of stuff in the dirt or anything like that."

Brewers starter Alfredo Figaro (1-1) lasted only 4 1/3 innings and gave up five runs and five hits.

"It was one of those days where you feel like your command is just not there," he said. "Today, I was a little tired in this game. I didn't have a lot of energy in that game, but we have to compete and we have to find the answers no matter how we feel. There's no excuse for the energy. You just have to fight it."

Lyles retired six of the first seven batters he faced and 14 of the final 17. In between, the Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the third, and Lyles struck out Aramis Ramirez and got Jonathan Lucroy to hit into a fielder's choice to escape the mess.

"In those situations, getting one good pitch here or there and getting out of those jams, that's been very beneficial for me," he 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.