DETROIT (AP) — Rookie Hunter Brown returned to his hometown to pitch six strong innings, leading the Houston Astros past the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Yordan Alvarez homered and scored three times for the Astros, who are 6-0 against the Tigers this season.
“They are good, and they can beat you in a lot of ways,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said of his former team. “We’ve seen a couple of those ways in the last two days. Today we couldn’t keep the ball in the park with two out.”
Brown (2-0) allowed two runs on five hits while pitching in front of a loud group of friends and family. He grew up in suburban Detroit and attended Wayne State, about a mile from Comerica Park.
“I was hearing my name a lot, even when I was warming up, and I definitely heard the cheering when I got my first strikeout,” Brown said. “I saw all my Wayne State teammates in the crowd and so many other people. It was definitely an exciting night.”
Brown said it was the first time in four years he had been to the stadium.
“It was right before I got drafted in 2018,” he said. “My sister had season tickets, and we went to a game.”
Ryan Pressly struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save.
“This was a good team effort,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Brown pitched well, we got some big hits, and we closed it out. Tomorrow is the last time we play them this year, so hopefully we can finish the job.”
Tigers starter Drew Hutchison (2-8) allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“I think he yanked a couple fastballs when he was trying to do a little too much,” Hinch said. “That offense across the way doesn’t swing at a lot of pitches outside the zone, and when you make a mistake they are going to punish it.”
The Astros took a 1-0 lead on Alvarez’s long homer in the first, but the Tigers ended a 22-inning scoreless streak in the second. With one out, Spencer Torkelson walked and beat Alvarez’s throw to the plate on Eric Haase’s double down the left-field line.
Harold Castro hit into double plays in the first and third innings.
“Those were huge, especially after I walked the first hitter of the game,” Brown said. “Those usually turn into runs, but I got a ground ball and the guys took care of me.”
Houston quickly regained the lead when Alvarez hit a two-out double and scored on Alex Bregman’s flare over the infield. Kyle Tucker followed with a home run to right, making it 4-1.
Yuli Gurriel’s homer to left in the seventh gave Houston a 6-2 lead. Kody Clemens homered off Hector Neris in the bottom of the inning.
“Yuli’s homer was big, because they had gotten close and he gave us some extra space,” Baker said. “He hadn’t hit one in a while, so I’m sure that felt good.”
RHP Justin Verlander (calf) traveled with the Astros for the series and took part in fielding drills before the game with his family looking on. He could be activated from the injured list later in the week.
The Astros activated IF/OF Aledmys Diaz (groin) from the 10-day injured list and optioned OF J.J. Matijevic to Triple-A Sugar Land. LHP Blake Taylor (elbow) was activated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Sugar Land while IF/OF Taylor Jones was designated for assignment.
Pitchers aren’t normally credited with an assist on a strikeout, but Brown got one in the third inning. Kerry Carpenter checked his swing on an 0-2 knuckle curve and the ball ricocheted off Martin Maldonado’s chest protector and rolled toward the mound. As Maldonado was appealing to third-base umpire Cory Blaser, who ruled Carpenter had swung, Brown picked up the ball and tossed to first baseman Yuli Gurriel for the out.
The teams finish their season series on Wednesday, with Detroit’s Joey Wentz (1-1, 4.05 ERA) facing Houston’s Cristian Javier (8-9, 3.01).