CLEVELAND (AP) — Gerrit Cole pitched one-run ball over seven innings and extended his winning streak to a career-best nine games as the Houston Astros beat the Indians 7-1 on Thursday, spoiling the Cleveland debut of Yasiel Puig and the return of Danny Salazar.
Cole (13-5) gave up four hits, all in the first four innings, and struck out four for Houston, which has the best records in the American League at 70-40. The right-handed Cole leads the majors with 216 strikeouts and has not lost since May 22.
Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez drove in two runs apiece, while George Springer hit his MLB-leading eighth leadoff home run and scored three times. Bregman went 3 for 3 with a solo homer.
Puig doubled off the wall in the fourth and went 1 for 3 with a stolen base in his first game since being acquired from Cincinnati. Franmil Reyes, who came over from San Diego in the same three-team trade, had a single in four at-bats.
Both sluggers received warm ovations each time they batted and after being thrown out at home plate on different plays.
Salazar (0-1) allowed two runs in four innings in his first appearance in the majors since the 2017 AL Division Series. The former All-Star right-hander, who had surgery on his throwing shoulder last July, struck out two and topped out at 88.3 MPH in 66 pitches.
Puig grounded out with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth against Joe Smith. Puig was in the lineup after appealing a three-game suspension for his role in a wild brawl Tuesday between the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Indians manager Terry Francona missed the game after undergoing an eye operation earlier in the day. Bench coach Brad Mills filled in. A team spokesman said Francona is expected to be back Friday.
Houston’s Yuli Gurriel went 0 for 4 and had his hitting streak snapped at 18 games.
Houston’s Josh Reddick was ejected by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza for throwing his equipment after striking out to end the sixth inning.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch has set the first starts for RHP Zack Greinke (Saturday against Seattle) and RHP Aaron Sanchez (Tuesday against Colorado). Former AL Cy Young Award winner Greinke was acquired from Arizona, while Sanchez and RHP Joe Biagini were dealt by Toronto. Each will report to Houston on Friday. “They all know what’s ahead of them,” Hinch said. “It’s nice to have a plan.”
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (right shoulder soreness) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock by working two innings either Saturday or Sunday. He reported no pain after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday in Cleveland.
Indians: RHP Dan Otero (right shoulder soreness) was shifted from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list when Cleveland acquired Puig and Reyes, but the team said it was strictly a procedural move. He has been sidelined since May 31.
Astros: LHP Wade Miley (9-4, 3.06 ERA) takes on Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-7, 5.21 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park. Miley has gone eight starts without a loss, posting three wins and a 2.57 ERA since June 17.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger (5-2, 3.28 ERA) faces Angels RHP Taylor Cole (1-1, 2.94 ERA) as Cleveland continues its nine-game homestand. Clevinger is 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in four starts at Progressive Field, striking out 40 over 23 innings.