HOUSTON (AP) — Manny Machado is trying not to make too much of his big game on Sunday that led the Baltimore Orioles over Houston.
Still, the slumping All-Star can’t help but think it could be a turning point in a season that’s off to a tough start.
“I hope so. I really hope so,” he said. “(Sunday) was a good day at the plate. Felt good, and my legs are finally getting under me. Feel like I can continue that.”
Machado hit his first career grand slam, David Lough homered and drove in three runs, and the Orioles beat the Astros 9-4.
Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz, leading the majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBIs, left in the third inning with a bruised left hand after being hit by a pitch from Scott Feldman. X-rays were negative and Cruz was listed as day to day.
“Anytime you get hit in the hand you get concerned,” Cruz said. “I tried to stay but I wasn’t able to grab the bat. So hopefully (Monday) I’ll be good.”
Machado’s towering shot capped a six-run sixth inning.
The 21-year-old Machado missed the first month after offseason knee surgery and has struggled since his return, prompting manager Buck Showalter to move him from the second spot to seventh in the batting order.
He was back to batting second on Sunday and also doubled, giving him two hits for the second straight game and raising his average to .230. Machado doesn’t feel like he’s back to last year’s form, but he’s making progress.
“I feel much (more) comfortable in there,” he said. “It was overall a good day. The pitching staff threw well. We’re finally getting some hits when we need to. Things are coming into place.”
Wei-Yin Chen (6-2) scattered four hits with one run over 5 1-3 innings. Feldman (3-3) allowed nine runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Matt Dominguez hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the Astros, who have lost two straight after winning a season-high seven in a row.
Machado doubled before Feldman plunked Cruz. Machado and Cruz pulled off a double steal before a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones made it 3-0.
Cruz was replaced in right field for the bottom of the third inning.
He didn’t think that Feldman, who was a teammate of his in Texas, tried to hit him and Feldman said it was in no way in intentional.
“I didn’t want to hit him,” Feldman said. “I checked after the game to make sure he was all right and they said it was just a bruise so that was a little relieving. It happens, it’s part of the game trying to pitch inside.”
The Orioles open a series at Texas, where Cruz spent the last eight seasons, on Tuesday. Showalter expects Cruz to try to play when the series begins.
“He’s going to be sore,” Showalter said. “If I know Nelson, he’s going to want to play on Tuesday. It’s got nothing to do with who we’re playing. He just likes to be there.”
Astros rookie George Springer snapped an 0-for-9 slump with a double that sailed over the head of Lough in right field to start the fourth inning. Chris Carter’s two-out single cut Baltimore’s lead to 3-1.
Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop hit consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs in the sixth. Lough hit an RBI single, and an intentional walk to Nick Markakis set up Machado’s third homer.
“I got into a situation there in the sixth that really just got out of hand,” Feldman said. “Bases loaded and I just couldn’t make a good pitch to Machado and left one right over the middle.”
Both teams had nifty plays by an outfielder.
Left fielder Delmon Young robbed Jonathan Villar of a hit when he made a sliding catch shortly after entering the game in the third.
Houston’s defensive highlight came when right fielder Springer sprinted to make the catch on a sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley in the sixth. Springer slipped and fell on his backside after making the catch and made the throw in while still on the ground.
NOTES: Showalter said Baltimore RHP Tommy Hunter, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21 with a left groin strain, felt good after throwing a bullpen session. He will travel to meet the team during its series at Texas and throw another bullpen session there on Tuesday before a decision is made on when he’ll begin a rehabilitation assignment. … Houston recalled RHP Paul Clemens from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned LHP Brett Oberholtzer to the minor league team.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)