MIAMI (AP) — Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick homered in the first inning, and the Houston Astros built a huge early lead and beat the Miami Marlins 12-5 Wednesday night.
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez hit his fourth career triple, and Mauricio Dubón had two hits and two RBIs as Houston banged out 12 hits and took two of three games from Miami.
"If we start swinging a little bit, we can be a dangerous team," McCormick said.
Justin Verlander (8-6) benefited from the early run support and threw five innings of five-run ball. The veteran right-hander gave up nine hits, walked two and struck out two in his third start since he rejoined the Astros at the trade deadline Aug. 1.
"It felt nice to have a lead to work with," Verlander said. "Obviously, quite a difficult day. You would like for things to be easy when the guys give you a lead early, but just wasn't in the cards today."
José Altuve returned to Houston's lineup one-day after fouling a pitch off his left shin and leaving the game in the bottom of the first. The star second baseman went 0 for 4 and remains three hits shy of 2,000 for his career.
The Astros broke loose for five runs in the first against Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo (8-8). Bregman and Tucker hit consecutive solo homers, McCormick added a two-run shot and Dubón added an RBI double to cap the outburst.
"We couldn't shut it off after the first inning," McCormick said. "All game we had good at-bats. But it was good to get a good head start in the first inning."
The Marlins started cutting into the deficit with Jake Burger's two-run double in the bottom of the inning.
Jeremy Peña's run-scoring single in the third put Houston ahead 6-2 before the Marlins cut their deficit in the fourth. Jon Berti reached on an RBI fielder's choice with the bases loaded and Peña's throwing error allowed Jesús Sánchez to score from second.
Bryan De La Cruz's run-scoring double in the fifth got Miami within 6-5.
Houston broke it open again with six runs in the seventh off relievers Andrew Nardi and Jorge López. Dubon's sacrifice fly made it 7-5 and Altuve drew a bases-loaded walk. Bregman followed with a two-run double and Tucker hit a two-RBI single in the outburst.
"The game got a little hairy there for a minute," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We had a couple of crooked numbers, which was great."
Verlander's struggles were offset by Houston's bullpen. Relievers Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero, Ryne Stanek and Parker Mushinski kept the Marlins hitless as each threw an inning.
Luzardo's outing ended after Alvarez's two-out triple in the fourth. The left-hander allowed six runs, five earned, and eight hits. He is 0-3 with a 7.39 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
"For us to fight back was great to see," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "The momentum was on our side, but then we had four walks that (seventh) inning and a lot of them scored. That was a frustrating ending."
Baker fully acknowledges Shohei Ohtani's outstanding season and the likelihood that the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star is the favorite to win the AL MVP. But Baker believes his star slugger Tucker merits consideration for the award.
"The league seems to give the MVP already to Ohtani, but without Tucker I don't know where we would be," Baker said. "He plays both sides of the ball and plays it well. He steals bases. There's nothing that he hasn't done. I love Ohtani but he's my MVP."
RETIRED YANKEE PERFORMS ANTHEM
Retired New York Yankees star outfielder Bernie Williams performed a guitar rendition of the national anthem.
Astros: Dubón split a finger nail in his at bat in the ninth but stayed in the game.. OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) homered in a rehab game with Triple-A Sugarland on Tuesday.
Marlins: RHP Tommy Nance (right elbow surgery) was scheduled to make a one-inning rehab appearance with Double-A Pensacola on Wednesday.
Astros: RHP J.P. France (9-3, 2.74) will start the opener of a three-game home set against the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara (5-10, 4.09) will start the opener of a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
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