Sport

Cole stays dominant as Astros beat Tigers

Gerrit Cole maintained his dominant form despite missing a turn in the rotation and the Houston Astros claimed a four-game series victory over the visiting Detroit Tigers with a 6-3 win on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.

Cole (15-5) improved to 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA over his last 15 starts by limiting Detroit to two hits and one walk over seven shutout innings. He posted 12 strikeouts to match the franchise record of 14 double-digit strikeout outings set by J.R. Richard in 1978 and matched in 1979.

And after having his previous turn in the rotation skipped because of right hamstring discomfort, Cole showed zero signs of vulnerability. He opened his night with strikeouts of Victor Reyes and Harold Castro and recorded a called third strike on Dawel Lugo to cap the second inning after Travis Demeritte (walk) and Ronny Rodriguez (single) reached in succession with two outs.

The strikeout of Lugo ignited a string of 11 consecutive batters retired by Cole, seven via strikeout. After Reyes reached on an opposite-field single with one out in the sixth, Cole recovered to retire the final five batters he faced. Cole threw 94 pitches, 65 for strikes, and averaged 97.5 miles per hour on 56 four-seam fastballs. Cole tallied 25 swings and misses, his second-highest total of swinging strikes in a start this season and sixth such start with 20-plus.

The Astros, 11-2 against the Tigers over the past two seasons, didn’t break through until the fourth inning when Alex Bregman followed a Michael Brantley (3-for-4, two RBIs) leadoff double with his career-high-tying 31st home run, a line drive into the Crawford Boxes in left field. The two-run blast represented the lone runs allowed by Tigers veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-9), who allowed three hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings.

Brantley scored again in the sixth when rookie Yordan Alvarez delivered an RBI double to right. Houston plated three runs off Tigers left-hander David McKay in the seventh, with Brantley producing another double that drove home Josh Reddick and George Springer. Brantley is riding a 15-game hitting streak and his 52 multi-hit games pace the Major Leagues.

John Hicks slugged a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth and Nico Goodrum followed with his 12th home run, both off Astros right-hander Joe Biagini, for the Tigers, who have dropped nine of 12.