By Brittany Ghiroli and Brian McTaggart
BALTIMORE -- The Astros are becoming road warriors when they need it most.
Houston used a solid start from Dallas Keuchel and capitalized on Baltimore's defensive woes in a three-run fifth to take their third straight win at Camden Yards, a 5-3 victory that clinched a series win for Houston in the four-game visit and a 6-1 record against the Orioles for the season series.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to leave here winning three out of four on one of the toughest days to play in a while," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We were here all day, the conditions weren't easy to play in, both mentally and physically. We stepped up and we answered the challenge, and to get out of here against a good team with a three out of four is a success."
The rain-delayed contest, which started more than four hours late and saw another 30-minute in-game delay, saw Houston (64-60) improve its Major League-best road record since June 14 to 17-11, with series wins in six of nine road series. The Orioles, who entered the day second in the Majors with 40 home wins, suffered their fifth defeat in six games and remain in third place in the American League East.
Keuchel went eight innings and allowed two runs, including Jonathan Schoop's fourth-inning homer.
Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo went seven innings and gave up four runs (three earned), the victim of a messy fifth that included Manny Machado's error and a ball (that went as a two-run double for Carlos Correa) that hit off right fielder Chris Davis' glove.
"Yeah, it's tough. It definitely is," Gallardo said of the O's rough stretch. "That's how baseball is. ... It's just one of those things where, as the starting pitcher, we understand what we have to do. We have to worry about our job, go out there and give our team the chance to win and just come together like we were doing throughout the year. It's just one of those things where we have to keep moving forward, keep working, and try to turn it over tomorrow."
Both teams had a Major League debut. Astros designated hitter Yulieski Gurriel singled in his first at-bat in the second inning, while O's reliever Parker Bridwell pitched in the eighth and ninth and allowed a two-out solo homer to Jake Marisnick in his first inning of work.
Mark Trumbo drew the Orioles to within two runs with a one-out solo homer (his MLB-leading 37th) in the ninth off Ken Giles, but Giles retired the next two batters to complete the save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gurriel on the money: It was a successful Major League debut for Gurriel, who rapped a single to center in his first career at-bat in the second inning. Gurriel, who was signed to a $47.5 million deal last month, was the designated hitter and batted sixth. He later added a walk and grounded out in the fifth before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning because of right hamstring tightness.
"I thought he was good," Hinch said. "He was very calm for his Major League debut. I don't care how you are or how many games you've played professionally in any country. Your first big league at-bat is a challenge to get through emotionally. I thought the swing was very good. Obviously, getting a hit out of the way was nice, getting a walk was nice."
O's miscues: Gallardo deserved a better fate. Instead, the righty watched Houston score three runs (two earned) in a sloppy fifth inning. The O's were only charged with one error officially, but it was still a sloppy night uncharacteristic of manager Buck Showalter's club.
"The ball was in the lights," Showalter said of the double that tipped off Davis' glove. "Chris is a good right fielder and maybe our best right fielder. It got in the lights and he just had to guess where it was. He almost made a great play. Probably one of the few guys who would have got to that."
"If I could put it into words, I would. It's just a dream come true. Just like any other kid," Bridwell said of his emotions in his debut. "I was pretty nervous before that first pitch. And then that kind of lifted a little weight off my shoulders. But it was fun. It was everything I expected."
There's your ace: Keuchel rebounded from a rough start against the Cardinals last week in Houston by winning for the second time in three starts. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who retired 14 of the first 17 batters he faced, said it was difficult getting prepared to start the game with only 30 minutes of notice.
"I don't condone that type of setup before the game," he said. "You're kind of sitting around here for four hours and then all of a sudden you've got a 30-minute window to play. If we want good, professional baseball, that can't happen. We obviously get one inning in and then another rain delay. I don't know who makes the calls around here, but that was pretty subpar. But the game was good."
O's TICKET OFFER
During the rain delay, the O's announced that fans in attendance were able to leave the park and come back later Sunday once the game got underway, and that fans also could exchange Sunday's ticket for a future game, subject to availability. Some restrictions apply.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch successfully challenged a call in the fifth inning that resulted in an out when replay showed Adam Jones came off second base while Correa was holding a tag on him. Jones was trying to advance to second on a throw to the plate following his RBI single to center. Hinch unsuccessfully challenged a caught-stealing call on Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth.
The Orioles lost their manager challenge in the sixth inning when they challenged a play at first base where Schoop was called out. It was a big moment, as a safe call would have left the O's with two men on and two outs.
"It was crazy. We ate so much junk food, we took so many naps. We ate burgers, pizza, candy, everything, waiting for the game. All of a sudden as soon as we were eating burgers, the game is supposed to be played in 30 minutes, and we're like, 'What? We don't have time to get ready.' So we got ready and everything turned out great and we won the game and played good baseball.'" -- Correa, on the four-hour delay.
"It's difficult, but you've got to go. You've got to play a game. You've got to do something to stay engaged with the game. Whenever the game starts, you've got to focus to be ready." -- Schoop, on waiting out the four-hour delay.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (11-8, 3.76 ERA) will take the mound in Monday's 6:05 p.m. CT series opener at PNC Park against the Pirates. Fister has gone 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in his last four starts, allowing 28 hits in 23 innings.
Orioles: The Orioles and Nationals will square off at Camden Yards on Monday night for the Beltway Series opener. Baltimore will send Dylan Bundy to the hill. Bundy is coming off the worst start of his short Major League career. The rookie allowed five runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings against Boston. Still, he has a 3.65 ERA in seven starts since being moved into the rotation. Stephen Strasburg starts for the Nationals at 7:05 p.m. ET.