HOUSTON – On the night the Houston Astros celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by NASA’s Apollo 11, the number 11 factored prominently into a lopsided win over the Oakland Athletics.
Gerrit Cole pitched seven strong innings and Aledmys Diaz, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel homered as the Astros jumped on Homer Bailey for nine runs early and sailed to an 11-1 win over the Athletics on Monday.
“I think it’s very appropriate we scored 11 runs,” manager AJ Hinch said sporting the special cap with the Apollo 11 mission logo the team donned for the celebration.
But the 11 runs weren’t the only 11 for the Astros on this night when the three homers they blasted helped them to their sixth straight victory.
Cole yielded two hits and one run while striking out 11 to collect his 11th win and help Houston improve to 8-1 against the Athletics this season. Cole has recorded double-digit strikeouts in three straight games, giving him an MLB-leading 205 this season.
Cole (11-5) has won seven straight decisions, with his last loss coming on May 22. He logged seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and one walk. He surpassed 200 strikeouts on the season, doing so for the second time in as many years with the Astros after reaching that plateau once in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Only Randy Johnson (130⅔ innings) has ever hit 200 faster in a season than Cole did (133⅓ innings).
Rick Armstrong, the son of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Apollo 11 night at the ballpark, which came two days after the 50th anniversary of the first landing.
Alvarez got things going for Houston when he sent Bailey’s second pitch of the second inning beyond the bullpen in right-center to put the Astros up 1-0.
George Springer hit an RBI single with one out in the inning and Bailey’s bases-loaded walk of Jose Altuve made it 3-0. The Astros added a run on a groundout by Alex Bregman.
Alvarez drew a four-pitch walk to open the third inning before Gurriel’s homer to left field pushed the lead to 6-0. Gurriel has an 11-game hitting streak and has hit 14 home runs in his last 23 games to give him a career-best 19 homers this season.
Bailey (8-7) allowed a season-high nine runs and tied a season high with eight hits in just two-plus innings.
Giants 5, Cubs 4
In San Francisco, Joe Panik hit a go-ahead double with two outs in a three-run eighth to help the Giants continue their winning ways since the All-Star break by rallying past Chicago.
Austin Slater doubled home the tying run, and Brandon Crawford hit an RBI single to help key the late comeback against Pedro Strop (2-4) as surprising San Francisco (51-50) won for the ninth time in 10 games and 16th in 19.
Robel Garcia and Kyle Schwarber each hit a solo homer for the Cubs, who couldn’t hold a 4-2 lead in the eighth.
Drew Pomeranz pitched two perfect innings in relief for the Giants, then Trevor Gott (7-0) worked the eighth. Sam Dyson finished for his second save, but issued a two-out walk and Addison Russell’s single to make it interesting until the final out. Schwarber popped up to end it.
Diamondbacks 6, Orioles 3
In Phoenix, Eduardo Escobar tripled twice, Adam Jones had three hits against his former team as Arizona beat Baltimore in the opener of a three-game series.
Robbie Ray (9-6) struck out 10 in six innings, allowing three runs and eight hits for his fourth win in four starts.
Diamondbacks reliever Yoshihisa Hirano worked one scoreless inning for his ninth hold of the season.
Twins 8, Yankees 6
In Minneapolis, Mitch Garver slugged two of Minnesota’s five home runs, and the Twins held on to beat New York after a tone-setting triple play in the first inning of a series opener between AL division leaders.
Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler also went deep. All but Garver’s second solo shot came off starter CC Sabathia (5-5), who lasted only four innings.
Indians 7, Blue Jays 3
In Toronto, Mike Clevinger pitched seven innings to win his third straight decision and Oscar Mercado homered and tripled as Cleveland improved to 13-3 in July.
Cardinals 6, Pirates 5 (10)
In Pittsburgh, Paul Goldschmidt hit his fifth career grand slam in the top of the 10th and right fielder Jose Martinez threw out the tying run at the plate to help St. Louis beat Pittsburgh.
White Sox 9, Marlins 1
In Chicago, Ivan Nova pitched a four-hitter to lead the hosts past Miami.
In Other Games
Red Sox 9, Rays 4
Mariners 7, Rangers 3
Reds 6, Brewers 5
Rockies at Nationals — ppd.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5