Tucker finds perfect time for first homer

Pinch-hitter goes deep off closer Soria to force extra innings in series opener

Tucker finds perfect time for first homer

DETROIT -- One swing of the bat gave the Houston Astros the life they needed to remain in Thursday's series opener against the Detroit Tigers. Ultimately, it wasn't enough to win the game as the Astros lost, 6-5, in 11 innings, but the team's ability to hit home runs in any moment has continued to give Houston an edge over the AL West, and much of baseball.

Preston Tucker's clutch home run in the ninth was the latest example of just what the Astros are capable of.

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Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros fall in 11 following Tucker's heroics

Astros fall in 11 following Tucker's heroics

DETROIT -- Preston Tucker's first Major League home run sent the Astros into extra innings against the Tigers after a five-run deficit, but James McCann's second career homer was a walk-off shot for Detroit in the 11th, sending the Tigers to a 6-5 win Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.

The Astros came to town for a series-opening matinee leading the American League in home runs and strikeouts, and lived up to both. After 12 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings from reigning AL strikeout champion David Price, Houston rallied with five runs from the seventh inning on, capped by Tucker's pinch-hit homer off Joakim Soria. McCann answered with his first traditional home run, sending Tony Sipp's offering out to left leading off the bottom of the 11th. His only previous shot was an inside-the-park home run April 29 at Minnesota.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Deduno prescribed rest for back strain

Reliever will throw bullpen session Friday or Saturday

Deduno prescribed rest for back strain

DETROIT -- Astros right-handed reliever Samuel Deduno was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strain in his right lower back on Monday. The club received positive news when Tuesday's MRI revealed inflammation near Deduno's right hip is not expected to require an extended stint on the disabled list.

Deduno will follow a rest-and-rehab plan for discomfort he has been experiencing since Spring Training. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Deduno will throw a bullpen session on Friday or Saturday. Meanwhile, Deduno continues to throw soft toss.

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Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McHugh tries to deposit win No. 6 at Comerica Park

McHugh tries to deposit win No. 6 at Comerica Park

On Friday night at Comerica Park, in the second contest of a four-game series, Alfredo Simon takes the mound for the Tigers against right-hander Collin McHugh and the Astros.

Simon (4-2, 3.04 ERA) hasn't earned a win since beginning the season with four straight, though he's had several solid outings. On Sunday, the righty limited the Cardinals to two runs over six innings but picked up the loss as Detroit's offense faltered.

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Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros outslug A's to back unbeaten Keuchel

Astros outslug A's to back unbeaten Keuchel

HOUSTON -- The streaking Astros got a two-run homer by Evan Gattis, a two-run single by Chris Carter and another strong pitching performance by Dallas Keuchel to beat the A's, 6-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel (6-0) rebounded from a pair of subpar outings, at least by his standards, and didn't allow an earned run over seven innings. Houston has won seven of its past eight games to continue the best start in club history at 27-14.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gattis rewards Astros' faith with power display

Decisive blast in finale vs. A's knots DH with Altuve for team lead in RBIs

Gattis rewards Astros' faith with power display

HOUSTON -- Had the roof been open Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, there would have been no accurate estimate of how far Evan Gattis' no-doubt homer in the sixth inning would have traveled. The official count was 414 feet, though it all but went out of sight when the ball rocketed off his bat.

Those are the kinds of majestic blasts the Astros hope to see more of out of Gattis, the bare-knuckled designated hitter who changed the complexion of the 6-1 win over the A's by breaking a tie with his two-run homer off A's starter Jesse Hahn.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel returns to form, improves to 6-0

Win streak extended to eight as Astros' ace allows no earned runs over seven

Keuchel returns to form, improves to 6-0

HOUSTON -- After giving up eight runs and 16 hits in 12 2/3 innings in his previous two starts -- both wins -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel returned to his dominant form in the Astros' 6-1 win over the A's on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel threw seven innings without allowing an earned run, and he scattered six hits to become the first Astros pitcher to start a season 6-0 since Roger Clemens was 9-0 in 2004. Keuchel extended his career-long winning streak to eight games, dating to last season.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch confident in 'pen with Gregerson unavailable

As closer gets day off, Astros manager knows he can rely on depth

Hinch confident in 'pen with Gregerson unavailable

HOUSTON -- The depth of the Astros' bullpen has paid off during the A's series, as closer Luke Gregerson had to be relieved by Pat Neshek to finish off Tuesday's victory. Manager A.J. Hinch has several solid options at his disposal with Gregerson resting Wednesday.

Hinch said veteran Chad Qualls, who served as Houston's closer last year, was certainly able to close any time Gregerson was out, and Hinch is not afraid to use Neshek or left-hander Tony Sipp in those situations. The manager hasn't been shy about putting Will Harris and Josh Fields into high-leverage situations, either.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homer-happy Astros making opponents pay

Homer-happy Astros making opponents pay

HOUSTON -- If the Astros keep this up, they're going to need a nickname for their power-laden lineup. Minute Maid Mashers probably won't do them any justice, but Houston's penchant for the long ball has made its lineup a dangerous one.

The A's learned that firsthand Tuesday, when the Astros got two-run homers from Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus and a solo blast from Jason Castro in a 6-4 Houston win, as the Astros improved to 26-14 -- the best 40-game start in club history.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros power up to get best of Gray, A's

Astros power up to get best of Gray, A's

HOUSTON -- Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus hit two-run homers and Jason Castro added a solo shot to lead the first-place Astros to their sixth win in seven games with a 6-4 victory over the A's on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Astros starter Roberto Hernandez (2-3) worked six innings and allowed two runs and seven hits, giving him seven consecutive starts of at least six innings. He gave up an RBI double to Josh Reddick in the third and a solo homer to Max Muncy in the sixth that cut the lead to 3-2.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

George Springer opens techno-themed 'Club Astros'

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George Springer opens techno-themed 'Club Astros'

The Astros' clubhouse looked a little different after the team's win Tuesday night. Same room, same players moving around, same music playing over the sound system ... but, well, things were a little hazy.

Literally.

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McCullers to get at least one more start

McCullers to get at least one more start

HOUSTON -- As the Astros await left-hander Brett Oberholtzer's return from the disabled list, manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday that rookie right-hander Lance McCullers will make another start, Saturday against the Tigers in Detroit.

McCullers, 21, made his debut on Monday and allowed one run and three hits in 4 2/3 inning while getting a no-decision against the A's. He's taking the rotation spot of Oberholtzer, who's on the DL with a blister and threw in the bullpen Tuesday without any problems.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Numbers suggest Astros' success is sustainable

Postseason a possibility for Houston despite low batting averages

Numbers suggest Astros' success is sustainable

Few offenses in baseball history have been more confounding than the 2015 Houston Astros. At this point, they're a potentially historic anomaly.

As we near the quarter mark of the baseball calendar, four Astros regulars have a batting average below .210. In the divisional era, only one team -- the 1988 Tigers -- has finished a season with at least two qualified players batting below .210. The last team with four players to do so? You'd have to go all the way back to the 1905 White Sox.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch to give 'fatigued' Gregerson day to rest

Hinch to give 'fatigued' Gregerson day to rest

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said closer Luke Gregerson wouldn't be available for Wednesday's series finale against the A's after working three times in the previous four games and throwing 69 pitches, including 24 in the Astros' 6-4 win over Oakland on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

Gregerson has struggled of late, allowing four earned runs and five hits in his last three appearances, but it hasn't cost the Astros, who are 18-0 in games in which he pitches. Gregerson was pulled after giving up two runs, two walks and two hits in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday, with Pat Neshek coming in to get the final out of the game.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa, Santana combine for three homers in Grizzlies win

Astros' No. 1 prospect hits first Triple-A long ball; No. 3 prospect adds two for Fresno

Correa, Santana combine for three homers in Grizzlies win

Astros No. 1 prospect (No. 3 overall) Carlos Correa and No. 3 prospect (No. 67 overall) Domingo Santana combined for three home runs in a 12-2 Fresno victory over El Paso on Tuesday.

Correa swatted his first Triple-A homer since joining the Grizzlies one week ago, while Santana added two more. On the day, seven Grizzlies collected multiple hits, including Matt Dominguez, who went 5-for-5, and the red-hot Jon Singleton, who went 4-for-5. Singleton is coming off a week in which he drove in a whopping 23 runs on the strength of five home runs -- including three grand slams -- and was named the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Week.

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Alex M. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCullers: Debut achieved 'lifelong dream'

McCullers: Debut achieved 'lifelong dream'

HOUSTON -- In Lance McCullers' big league debut Monday, the Astros' No. 10 prospect certainly showed flashes of the electric stuff that prompted Houston to send McCullers to the big leagues without facing a hitter in Triple-A.

McCullers figures to have many more opportunites to showcase his skill as his career progresses after allowing one run, three walks and three hits while striking out five batters in 4 2/3 innings and taking a no-decision in the Astros' 2-1 loss to the A's at Minute Maid Park.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros' bats quiet vs. A's in McCullers' debut

Astros' bats quiet vs. A's in McCullers' debut

HOUSTON -- The A's used RBI singles by Eric Sogard in the second inning and Brett Lawrie in the sixth inning to snap the Astros' five-game winning streak with a 2-1 win in the series opener Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

"We need a few of them," said A's manager Bob Melvin, his club having lost 10 of its previous 11 games. "It''s not going to exorcise all the demons, but it certainly gives us a night where we can sleep better."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fuld robs Springer with great grab on Tal's Hill

Fuld robs Springer with great grab on Tal's Hill

HOUSTON -- Before Monday's game in Houston, A's outfielder Sam Fuld was practicing the type of catch on Tal's Hill he figured he'd never have to make. Just in case.

Then he made it.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros prospect makes first start in Batman cleats

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Astros prospect makes first start in Batman cleats

Matt Harvey may be baseball's official Dark Knight, but lo, from the plains of Texas, a new hero has emerged. Lance McCullers, dispensing justice with an electric fastball-curve combination that has already cleaned up the streets of Corpus Christi, and the city of Houston has been anticipating his coming for quite some time. During Monday night's game against the Athletics, this mysterious 21-year-old flamethrower finally revealed himself, and he came bearing a familiar symbol.

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Deduno placed on DL as McCullers called up

Astros right-hander dealing with lower back strain; Lowrie transferred to 60-day disabled list

Deduno placed on DL as McCullers called up

HOUSTON -- The Astros placed right-hander Samuel Deduno on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a lower back strain in a move that's retroactive to Thursday. His spot on the 25-man roster was taken by right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who made his Major League debut against the A's on Monday at Minute Maid Park.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Deduno felt stiffness in his lower right back after throwing two innings in relief of Brett Oberholtzer on Wednesday against the Giants.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Santana on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Bryant, Schwarber, Vogelbach earn honors with combined eight homers and 20 RBIs

Santana on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

In his first month with the Cubs, Kris Bryant has done nothing but add to the belief that he'll become a superstar. Despite missing Chicago's first eight games in an apparent attempt to leverage his service time, he leads the team with 24 RBIs and 24 walks in 29 games while batting a cool .291/.426/.476.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jam session: McHugh evades trouble in win

Righty piles up 9 K's over 7 innings, holding Blue Jays to 2 runs

Jam session: McHugh evades trouble in win

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh struggled a bit on Sunday, especially at the beginning of innings.

Toronto managed to get its leadoff hitter on base in each of the first four innings, scoring in the third and fourth innings. But the Houston right-hander pitched around trouble in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park, giving the Astros a four-game sweep and their fifth straight win.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros sweep, match best start in club history

Astros sweep, match best start in club history

HOUSTON -- The streaking Astros received home runs from Luis Valbuena and Colby Rasmus and another solid starting pitching performance from Collin McHugh (5-1), to beat the Blue Jays, 4-2, on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. The Astros swept the four-game series and have won five straight games. At 25-13. the Astros also equaled the best start in franchise history, matching the 1998 club, which won a franchise-record 102 games.

"It's a great tribute to the players and leadership we have," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind, but you're never out of it. That's the way we're going about it."

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Chris Abshire and Richard Dean are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rasmus stings ex-team with go-ahead dinger

Astros outfielder takes Buehrle's first-pitch offering to upper-deck seats

Rasmus stings ex-team with go-ahead dinger

HOUSTON -- Colby Rasmus' stay with Toronto did not end well last year. So hitting a go-ahead home run off Mark Buehrle on Sunday in the Astros' 4-2 win over the Blue Jays was satisfying for the left fielder.

"There's a little something to it," Rasmus said. "It definitely felt good, the way things ended last year. But I was more happy to help my team than trying to do something against them [Blue Jays]. My focus is more on trying to help my team win."

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros recognize breast cancer survivor

Rodgers named Honorary Bat Girl, throws out first pitch Sunday

HOUSTON -- As part of Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl initiative, the Astros recognized breast cancer survivor Donna Rodgers of Mississippi on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. She also threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

"I think it's a great awareness program that they've started," said Rodgers, who has been in remission four years. "When I was diagnosed with cancer, I wasn't even thinking about breast cancer because I really never heard anything about it. Now that I've been diagnosed, I can make other people aware through information that I find out.

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Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Orbit tosses banana peel during Space Race

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Orbit tosses banana peel during Space Race

Over the years, Astros mascot and expert Photoshopper Orbit has Jenga'd and N'Sync'd his way into a very special place in America's heart. I mean, just look at the guy: You may not know what exactly he is -- an alien from the Grand Slam Galaxy, for the record (favorite movie: "E.T.", a close personal friend) -- but that's irrelevant, because he's green and furry and has little Saturns popping out of his head and what more could you possibly ask for, you hearts of stone?

Which is why what went down during a break in Saturday's Blue Jays-Astros game hurts us so. You see, occasionally Houston will host a Space Race -- like the sausages in Milwaukee or the presidents in Washington, but with brightly colored astronauts (which, really, would improve any given situation). Rather than delighting in the friendly competition, though, Orbit took this opportunity to channel his inner Vengeful Mario Kart God, coolly tossing a banana peel onto the track and causing a three-astronaut pile-up:

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