BALTIMORE (AP) — Justin Verlander looked playoff-ready in a 10-strikeout performance, Carlos Correa homered and hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth inning, and the Houston Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Saturday in the opener of a doubleheader.
Verlander made a case for his second AL Cy Young Award with a dominant outing that began with seven strikeouts over three perfect innings. The right-hander allowed three hits and walked one in six innings.
He left with the score 3-0, but the Houston bullpen gave away the lead.
In his 14th big league season, Verlander went 16-9 with an AL-leading, career-high 290 strikeouts and only 37 walks in 214 innings.
The 35-year-old’s next outing will come in the postseason, which begins for Houston on Friday against Cleveland.
Orioles starter Dylan Bundy matched zeroes with Verlander until the sixth. Tony Kemp drew a leadoff walk, George Springer hit his 22nd home run on a 3-2 pitch and Correa sent Bundy’s next offering over the right-field wall.
DJ Stewart tied it with a three-run homer off Joe Smith in the seventh.
In the ninth, Springer drew a two-out walk from Sean Gilmartin (1-1) and Correa doubled into the gap in right-center.
Will Harris (5-3) worked the eighth and Hector Rondon got three outs for his 15th save.
It has been a strange September for Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who has worked only 12 innings and celebrated the birth of his fourth child.
Morton left with shoulder discomfort after pitching only one inning against the Angels last Sunday. Then, on Thursday, his wife gave birth to a girl.
Morton will start on Sunday in the season finale. How far he goes is up in the air.
“I could see it going anywhere from one inning, two innings, maybe even three innings,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I need to be convinced that he feels like he’s clear from the soreness to where we’re not risking a ton.”
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is receiving an unofficial, tentative farewell from the fans at Camden Yards this weekend.
His contract expires after the season, and he is 33 years old on a team rebuilding with youth. Even if the Orioles ask him back, would he say yes?
“I’m not the one making business decisions on their regard,” he said before the game. “All I can do is make a business decision on my behalf.”
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.75 ERA) was slated to start the second game. Hinch said the lefty would only go three innings, to keep him sharp and get the bullpen some work before the playoffs.
Orioles: Rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-7, 6.07 ERA) makes his 12th start and 17th appearance in Game 2, looking for his first victory since July 24.
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