ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Luis Garcia scattered three hits over six innings and the Houston Astros ended the Tampa Bay Rays’ 14-game season-opening home winning streak, 5-0 on Tuesday night.
Only three teams had a longer run than the Rays, who are 20-4 overall.
“It was a little weird,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said of the first home loss. “Walking in there (the clubhouse) with no music or anything like that, but I’m guessing they’ll get the music back on soon.”
The 1880 Chicago White Stockings, who became the Cubs, hold the MLB record for the longest season-opening home streak with 21. The 1886 Detroit Wolverines had an 18-game stretch, while the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association won 16 in a row, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The announced crowd for the game between the MLB-best Rays and the defending World Series champion Astros at Tropicana Field was just 9,916.
Garcia (2-2) struck out seven, walked two and allowed just one runner to reach scoring position. The right-hander was coming off a start last Wednesday in which he gave up two hits over seven shutout innings in an 8-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Garcia, he was great, especially against a hot team and a very good offensive team,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “He had command of every pitch.”
The Astros are 4-1 on a six-game road trip that includes a three-game sweep at Atlanta.
Tampa Bay entered outscoring its opponents 157-64. The Rays were held homerless for the second consecutive game after going deep 48 times during an MLB-record 22 straight to begin a season.
It was the first time the Rays have been shut out this season.
Phil Maton, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly combined to finish a five-hitter.
Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubón doubled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 19 games and scored the game’s first run to start a five-run inning off Drew Rasmussen (3-2) when Jeremy Peña doubled on the next pitch.
When asked what the key to his hitting success has been, Dubón replied, “Close my eyes, and pray, and it’s been working.”
“Swing at good pitches,” Dubón added.
Kyle Tucker had an RBI single, and José Abreu and Corey Julks had run-scoring doubles before Jake Meyers drove in a run with a single that ended Rasmussen’s night.
“They pieced together a big inning,” Cash said. “They hit balls hard, they hit those tweeners right between some infielders. They’re a good hitting team. They make adjustments.”
Rasmussen allowed five runs and nine hits, and had his ERA climb from 2.01 to 3.33.
A great start doesn’t guarantee long-term success, While the 1880 White Stockings won the National League championship, the 1886 Wolverines wound up 2 1/2 games back of Chicago for the NL pennant. The 1987 Milwaukee Brewers started 20-3, then lost 12 in a row, and ended up third in the AL East.
Astros: Baker had no update on OF Yordan Alvarez (neck discomfort), who returned to Houston for tests and missed his second game. … OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) made his second start with Triple-A Sugar Land. … OF Chas McCormick (lower back) took part in an off field workout and may need a minor league rehabilitation assignment. … RHP Lance McCullers (right elbow strain) threw on flat ground and halfway up the mound.
Rays: CF Jose Siri (right hamstring) was reinstated from the IL and was 0 for 2 with a walk.
Rays LHP Josh Fleming (0-0) will start or follow an opener in Wednesday night’s series finale. RHP Hunter Brown (2-0) is the Astros starter.
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