HOUSTON (AP) — The Astros squandered chance after chance on Thursday and it cost them a victory.
Adam Jones had three hits, including a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning Thursday that led the Baltimore Orioles over Houston 3-2.
The Astros went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and had runners at first and third with no outs in both the sixth and seventh innings and couldn’t capitalize.
“We need to find a way to scratch a run across and get some momentum on our side,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Some missed opportunities there and it’s unfortunate because the game was there to win.”
With the score 2-2 in the eighth and two outs, Jones drove a pitch from Chad Qualls (1-3) into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Jones has five hits in his last two games following a 0-for-12 slump.
Wei-Yin Chen yielded two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings with a season-high nine strikeouts. Darren O’Day (2-0) struck out two in one inning and lowered his ERA to 0.89, and Zach Britton got four outs for his 14th save in 15 chances, stopping Baltimore’s five-game losing streak.
“Threw his fastball well,” George Springer said of Chen. “In and out, up and down. When he can command it like that, he’s going to be tough.”
Hank Conger had a home run and a double for the Astros, who at an AL-best 34-21 are off to the best start in franchise history.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected in the second inning by umpire Brian Gorman after going to home plate, gesturing and yelling at him. His ejection came after Ryan Flaherty struck out after two called strikes.
Bench coach John Russell took over after the ejection.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel matched his shortest start this season at six innings after consecutive complete games. He allowed two runs and six hits with seven strikeouts.
“You’re going to have days like that and you have to overcome those days and be a little better,” Keuchel said. “Today was one of those days I had to be a little better and I wasn’t and we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities at the plate.”
Jones singled with one out in the sixth, stopped short to evade the tag and a double play on Chris Davis’ grounder and scored the tying run on a single by Steve Pearce, a ball that rolled out of the diving reach of both third baseman Luis Valbuena and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.
“I didn’t see a replay of the play at second where Marwin was trying to tag Jones,” Hinch said. “He did a pretty good job of avoiding it and he ends up on second. Those 90 feet took a toll on in a really close game.”
Houston had runners at first and third with no outs in the sixth inning, but Chen retired the next three batters, striking out two.
Houston put runners at the corners with no outs in the seventh. O’Day replaced Chen with one out and walked pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus before to load the bases before striking out George Springer and retiring Jose Altuve on a flyout.
Davis’ RBI single put Baltimore ahead in the first, Hank Conger’s homer run tied the score in the third and Valbuena’s sacrifice fly put the Astros ahead 2-1 in the fourth.
CARTER HEATING UP
Houston first baseman Chris Carter, who tied for second in the majors with 37 homers last season, doubled on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, which ties a career-high. He is hitting .375 with six extra-base hits in that span to raise his batting average from .157 to .206.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy didn’t start for the fourth straight game with soreness in his left side, but came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. … C Matt Wieters, who had Tommy John surgery last June, is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start on Friday. … Starter Bud Norris (bronchitis) is expected to return from the disabled list to start on Sunday.
Orioles: The Orioles open a three-game series at Cleveland when Chris Tillman opposes Shaun Marcum. Tillman will look to bounce back after allowing nine hits and six runs in just 4 2/3 innings in his last outing.
Astros: Houston travels to Toronto to start a three-game series with right-hander Roberto Hernandez opposing Aaron Sanchez. Hernandez has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 17 hits and 12 runs combined.
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)