HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander scored 10 runs in six quick innings to register his MLB-leading 12th win as the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Saturday.
Martin Maldonado hit a second-innings Grand Slam as the AL West chief Astros bounced back from a 5-1 loss in the first match of the series on Friday night. The A actually beat Houston 7-6, but there was little to show for it.
Verlander (12-3) allowed six hits without a walk and reduced his ERA to 1.89, which is third among the majors. Phil Matton, Hector Neris and Brian Abreu played a scoreless innings to complete the shutout against the team with the worst AL record.
Verlander, who leads all active players in strikeouts, now has 3,121 in his career, taking him to 14th place on the all-time list ahead of Kurt Schilling (3,116) and Bob Gibson (3,117).
Verlander’s stellar season comes after the 39-year-old missed nearly two full seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was selected for his ninth All-Star Game and will take part in next week’s festivities in Los Angeles, but will not pitch in Tuesday’s game after throwing 106 pitches on Saturday.
Five of the six hits Verlander conceded were singles and the only time the Athletics had more than one hit in an inning came when Dermis Garcia and Nick Allen started in fifth place with consecutive singles hits. But Wimmel Machin landed in a double play before Verlander Ramon Loreno retired to eliminate the threat.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve was in the lineup on the designated hitter after missing Friday’s game to deal with pain after hitting the pitch in his left knee on Thursday. Altuve said he was still upset on Saturday and would not take part in the All-Star Game due to injury.
There were two outs in the second when Yuli Gurrill and Jake Meyers hit consecutive singles before Chas McCormick loaded the bases.
Maldonado then added rookie Jared Koenig (1-3) in a shot to center field 4-0 for his third career Grand Slam.
Aldamis Diaz marked Houston’s fourth and Gurrill’s solo debut, setting up an RBI single by McCormick.
Koenig scored six hits and five runs in seven career innings for his third loss in five earlier this season.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr., who has been out all season with a right-handed wrist strain, said he felt good after throwing about 40 pitches in a two-innings mock game on Saturday. The team hasn’t determined his next move, but he could begin a rehabilitation work soon. “It’s like the end of my rehab,” he said. “It’s that end point, the end of the tunnel where we realize we were expecting to be up to this point in the calendar. That’s a good thing. As far as my next move is concerned, I’ll have to wait.” And have to talk to the training staff and the astros.”
Houston’s Jake Odorizzi (4-2, 3.38) is set to start in the series finale on Sunday. The Athletics has yet to name a starter.
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