HOUSTON (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays had outscored the Houston Astros 20-0 in the first two games of this series behind excellent outings by starters Matt Moore and David Price.
On Wednesday night it was the Rays who were the victims of a solid pitching performance.
Chris Carter homered twice, including a go-ahead three-run shot in the seventh, to back seven strong innings from Bud Norris and give the Astros a 4-1 win over the Rays.
The victory breaks a five-game skid for the Astros, who had been shut out in their last two games.
``Credit their guys, they pitched well,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``You are not going to do it every night. They are humans not robots. Our guys came ready to play, but we got out-pitched tonight.'
Carter broke a 22-inning scoring drought for Houston with his solo homer in the second off Roberto Hernandez (4-10) that tied it 1-1. He connected on a full-count pitch from Jake McGee on his second home run to make it 4-1 in the seventh.
``Carter hurt us,' Maddon said. ``He didn't miss two pitches. That one from Jake (McGee) was properly struck. That is back wall anywhere. That was incredible. You have to give them credit for the way they bounced back today, and their pitcher set up the whole thing.'
Norris (6-7) allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts to break a three-game losing streak and pick up his first win since June 1. Jose Veras allowed a hit in a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.
``He threw strikes,' Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist said. ``He has good stuff. We didn't get the big hit when we needed it. I got some pitches to hit. The other guys got good pitches to hit. We just didn't capitalize on those.'
Hernandez allowed four hits and three runs in six-plus innings for his fourth consecutive loss.
``He has been good,' Maddon said of Hernandez. ``Velocity is good, slider is good, changeup is good. Everything is good; we just haven't scored any runs for the guy.'
James Loney had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and Zobrist drove in Tampa Bay's only run with a sacrifice fly in the first.
Carter's homer in the second pinged off the facade on the wall above the Crawford Boxes in left field, giving the Astros their first earned run in 31 innings.
It also broke a team record-tying 24-inning scoreless streak for Rays pitchers. It was the third time in team history they'd reached the mark.
Jose Altuve singled with two outs in the third, but was caught stealing second to end the inning. Hernandez starting rolling after that and retired the next nine straight.
He ran into trouble in the seventh when Brett Wallace doubled with no outs before he was chased by a single from Jason Castro. He was replaced by McGee, and Carter sent his 98 mph fastball to the train tracks atop the wall in left field. It was Carter's second multi-homer game of the season and of his career.
Norris hasn't had much run support lately, with the Astros scoring just three runs combined in his last three losses. A relieved-looking Norris greeted Carter with a hug and a huge smile in the dugout after his homer put Houston on top.
The Rays, who had scored 20 runs in the last two games combined, had trouble stringing together hits against Norris.
Their best chance to add to their run total came in the fifth. Jose Molina's comebacker sailed just inches above Norris's head for a single to start the inning. Norris then struck out Yunel Escobar and Molina was caught stealing second on the play. Norris walked consecutive batters, but escaped the jam by retiring Zobrist for the third out.
Escobar singled with one out in the seventh before Jennings grounded into a double play to end the inning.
NOTES: The series wraps up Thursday when Tampa Bay's Chris Archer opposes Jordan Lyles. ... Evan Longoria was Tampa Bay's designated hitter for the second straight game after missing the previous three games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Maddon said he doesn't know when the All-Star third baseman will feel good enough to play defense, but that's OK with him. ``We'll just have to wait to get him on the field, but we have him as a DH we'll take it,' Maddon said. .
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