BALTIMORE (AP) — Dusty Baker has been around long enough to know what it takes for a team to get on a lengthy winning streak.
After watching Zack Greinke stymie the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night for Houston's ninth straight victory, Baker was asked to explain the reason behind the Astros' most successful run since the 2019 season.
“We're getting good starting pitching,” the longtime manager declared. “That’s where it starts.”
Greinke took a four-hitter into the eighth inning and Myles Straw had two RBIs in Houston's gritty 3-1 win. One night earlier, starter Jake Odorizzi pitched five hitless innings to spark a 10-2 rout of the lowly Orioles.
Greinke (8-2) allowed one run and five hits with four strikeouts and a walk over 7 1/3 innings. Facing the Orioles for the first time since 2010, the 37-year-old righty permitted only one runner past second base in lowering his ERA to 3.56.
The 18-year veteran attributed his solid outing to re-discovering his command of the fastball.
“It hasn’t been that great,” Greinke acknowledged. “I can’t remember when it was good. It's been a while.”
On this night, he was overpowering.
“The guy knows how to pitch,” Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart said. “He's been getting outs and doing this for a long, long time. He keeps you off balance with fastball, curveball, changeup.”
Brooks Raley got two strikeouts in the eighth and Ryan Pressly finished for his 11th save in 12 tries.
Straw hit a solo shot in the second inning and singled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh before Chas McCormick added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“He’s using the whole field, he’s turning on the ball,” Baker said of Straw, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup. “We’re just glad he’s doing his thing. We need him, especially at the bottom of the order there.”
Riding their longest streak since a 10-game run in May 2019, the Astros own the best record in the AL (45-28). Houston has won seven straight series after taking the first two of this three-game set.
Baltimore has lost 12 of 13 and owns the AL's worst record (23-50). Right-hander Jorge López (2-9) gave up two runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings but was outdone by Greinke.
Straw put the Astros up 1-0 with his third home run in 432 career at-bats. The liner to left was initially ruled a double, but the call was overturned after a replay showed the ball clearing the 7-foot wall — and the glove of leaping outfielder Austin Hays — before bouncing back onto the field.
Baltimore used a walk, a single and a fly ball by Cedric Mullins to tie it in the third.
López was lifted in the seventh after McCormick led off with an infield hit. Straw greeted Hunter Harvey with an opposite-field bloop to right that landed in front of a diving Stewart, and by the time the outfielder retrieved the ball and got it to the plate, McCormick had already scored.
REST FOR THE WEARY
Astros SS Carlos Correa was given the day off after going the distance Monday night in a game that lasted 3:40 and featured rain delays totaling 1 hour, 41 minutes. Baker originally planned to sit Correa later this week in Detroit before the Monday marathon “kind of messed up our plans.”
Astros: RHP Pedro Báez (shoulder) threw around 20 pitches off the mound Tuesday in West Palm Beach, Florida, and hopes to throw on the side again Wednesday. “He said his shoulder is feeling great," Baker said of the former Dodgers reliever, who has yet to play this season. ... OF Kyle Tucker is on the verge of returning after being placed on the injured list on June 15 with an illness. ... RHP Josh James (left hip surgery) is “about ready to go" on a rehab assignment with Class A Fayetteville, according to Baker.
Orioles: LHP Bruce Zimmermann (biceps tendinitis) will be sidelined at least two or three more weeks, manager Brandon Hyde said. The rookie last pitched on June 13. ... OF Anthony Santander missed a second straight start with a tender left ankle. He struck out as a pinch-hitter.
The Orioles selected the contract of RH knuckleballer Mickey Jannis from Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Mac Sceroler for assignment. Jannis has never pitched in the majors.
Astros RHP José Urquidy (5-3, 3.65 ERA) faces rookie RHP Thomas Eshelman (0-0, 1.93 ERA) in the series finale.
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