McCullers goes 6 shutout innings in return, Astros down A's

Athletics Astros Baseball

HOUSTON (AP) — Lance McCullers Jr. pitched six shutout innings in his season debut, Alex Bregman homered and Trey Mancini had three hits as the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 8-0 on Saturday night.

McCullers, an All-Star in 2017, allowed two hits, struck out five and walked four, tossing 47 of his 81 pitches for strikes. It's his first shutout since August 31, 2021.

The 28-year-old McCullers (1-0) pitched for the first time in 305 days for Houston, last going for the Astros in Game 4 of the 2021 AL Divisional Series against the Chicago White Sox. McCullers went on to miss the 2021 ALCS and World Series for the Astros due to a right flexor tendon strain.

McCullers got plenty of offensive support from the start.

In the first inning, Bregman belted his 15th homer of the season, making it 2-0. It was Bregman’s ninth home run and 33rd RBI since June 17.

The Astros tacked on two more runs in the sixth, stretching the lead to 6-0. The inning was highlighted by Mancini’s RBI double as he finished 3 for 4. Since being acquired by Houston from Baltimore, Mancini is 8 for 27 with eight RBIs.

Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick each had an RBI triple. It was Tucker’s team-leading 76th RBI of the season.

Oakland starter Zach Logue (3-6)gave up six runs on eight hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 1/3 innings. The Athletics were limited to five hits and left six runners on base.

A WARM WELCOME

As McCullers made his way in from the bullpen prior to the start of the game, he was announced as the starter and welcomed by a roar from the crowd.

Then, after inducing an inning-ending double play to close out the sixth, McCullers let out a big scream as he walked off the field. He then looked up to the crowd and blew a kiss to 34,078 on hand.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Houston officially placed OF Michael Brantley on the 60-day injured list on Saturday after undergoing season-ending right shoulder surgery … RHP Seth Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land to make room for McCullers Jr. on the roster.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Cole Irvin (6-9, 2.92 ERA) gets the ball for Oakland on Sunday. Irvin is 4-3 with a 1.88 ERA and holding opponents to a .178 average and a .490 OPS over his last seven starts dating to July 4.

Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (6-8, 3.14 ERA) will close out the six-game homestand for Houston on Sunday. Javier is seeking his first win since July 1 as he has taken the loss in five of his last six outings. Last time out against Oakland, Javier gave up three runs on five hits, walked one and struck out six in five innings.

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