By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Zack Greinke’s debut with the Houston Astros on Tuesday night was made easier by the warm welcome he received from his new teammates in the days since his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It didn’t hurt that the Astros also provided him a ton of offense on a night where he didn’t have his best stuff.
Greinke labored through six innings but wound up with a win as Houston hit four home runs to beat the Colorado Rockies 11-6.
“Sometimes it’s a little awkward, but I feel pretty good here,” said Greinke who is playing for his sixth team. “Guys make it real easy. So, it didn’t feel awkward at all like some other times when I’ve been on new teams.”
Playing in front of a season-high crowd of 43,243, the AL West leaders won their fifth straight. Yuli Gurriel hit two homers, Yordan Alvarez added a two-run drive and Carlos Correa homered and drove in three runs.
Greinke (11-4), a six-time All-Star who was traded on Wednesday, yielded seven hits and five runs with two walks and two strikeouts. He left with the game tied at 5, tagged by Raimel Tapia’s three-run homer in the sixth.
But Houston scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Correa’s home run, to give Greinke his first win since July 5.
“I was telling (catcher Martín Maldonado) Maldy that it kind of reminds me of back when I was in Milwaukee, it seemed like we scored like 10 runs a game,” Greinke said. “So it’s a good offense and it’s fun to pitch with that going on.”
He did have one gripe about Houston’s powerful offense, though.
“Yeah, it’s kind of boring,” he said of the long wait between innings. “And just trying to stay loose, staying focused (when) not having anything to do.”
The AL West leaders got Greinke for four prospects in a startling trade just minutes before the deadline to complete deals. The 35-year-old righty added another top-level starter to an imposing rotation led by All-Stars Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
Though he was with a new team, Greinke faced a familiar opponent after making four starts against Colorado this season while playing in the NL West with the Diamondbacks. Tuesday’s win gives the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner 14 in his career against the Rockies, which is his most against any opponent and improves Houston’s starters to 15-1 in their last 18 starts.
“Not having been around him, I was impressed by how he goes about his business, how he prepared, how he worked his way through his outing,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He was very calm and very interactive during the game.”
Charlie Blackmon hit a solo shot off Astros reliever Chris Devenski in the seventh to cut it to 1. But Houston tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the frame on a two RBI double by Correa and a two-run homer by Gurriel to push the lead to 11-6.
Colorado starter German Márquez gave up eight hits and five runs in five innings. Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-4) allowed one hit and two runs without getting an out in the sixth for the loss.
Manager Bud Black lamented the struggles of his bullpen after the Rockies rallied to tie it.
“It’s frustrating that when you come back a couple times, you have some momentum and you feel good about where you are and when they come back against you,” he said. “Our guys are trying to make pitches tonight, and it didn’t happen.”
Daniel Murphy reached on a single by Alex Bregman to start the sixth before Greinke walked Ryan McMahon with one out. Ian Desmond grounded into a force out that left Murphy out at third before Tapia knocked a 66 mph curveball into the first row of the right field stands to tie it.
Tapia had struggled against Greinke before that homer, going 2 for 19 with one double and no RBIs.
Bregman doubled to start Houston’s second before Alvarez’s home run sailed to the second deck in right field to make it 2-0. An RBI single by Michael Brantley extended the lead to 3-0 in the third.
The Rockies cut the lead to 2 in the fourth when Trevor Story scored on a sacrifice fly by Nolan Arenado, which was his 700th RBI. McMahon followed with an RBI double which skipped down the left field line to make it 3-2.
Astros: Hinch said pitching coach Brent Strom will likely remain away from the team through its weekend series at Baltimore after he had gastrointestinal surgery on Saturday night. … RHP Ryan Pressly (sore right knee) allowed one hit and struck out two in one inning in the first game of a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday night. … RHP Brad Peacock (sore right shoulder) will make a rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday night.
THEY SAID IT
Correa on the performance in Alvarez in his rookie season: “He’s got unreal talent. His approach at such a young age sets him apart. That’s why he’s so good. He’s young, powerful, has great swing, but his approach is what makes him powerful.”
Rockies: RHP Peter Lambert (2-2, 5.71 ERA) will start for Colorado when this series wraps up on Wednesday. Lambert allowed four hits and four runs in six innings in his last start, but did not factor in the decision in the 5-4 win.
Astros: Cole (13-5, 2.87) is scheduled to start for Houston on Wednesday. Cole, who leads the majors with 216 strikeouts, yielded four hits and one run in seven innings in his last outing against Cleveland to win his ninth straight decision.
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By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer