By MICHAEL KELLY Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Wade Miley appeared headed for an early exit. Instead, he had a strong finish to help the Houston Astros to their second straight sweep.
Miley walked the first two batters of the game but worked out of the jam to toss six strong innings in Houston’s 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
“Nothing like almost getting a guy up in the first inning and then you go six strong,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I stayed patient with him, he got better as the game went on. He felt better at the end than he did at the beginning.”
Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman homered and Josh Reddick had two RBIs for the Astros, who have won five in a row.
“Wade gave us a chance to win, Yuli big swing, Reddick big swing and our bullpen was nails,” Bregman said. “Good sweep.”
Miley (7-4) struck out six and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced after a rough start. He was facing a blow-up first inning when, with runners on first and second and no outs, he went 3-0 on Nolan Arenado.
“I felt lost on an island out there in the first inning. I couldn’t throw a strike, I was trying to throw it over the plate and let them hit it,” Miley said. “Was able to get through it and found some traction in the third and fourth.”
Arenado helped when he popped out swinging 3-0 and David Dahl flew out on the next pitch. Miley escaped with only Ian Desmond’s RBI single with two outs.
“I can see him doing it because he can do damage on that pitch,” Miley said of Arenado. “I was a little shocked the next (batter) swung (at the first pitch). Thank you.”
Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 19th save.
Colorado has dropped three in a row and went 2-4 on its homestand against Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I felt like we’re competitive, we’re right there,” outfielder Charlie Blackmon said. “We’re very close to what we need to be but we have some room for improvement.”
Bregman hit his team-leading 23rd homer, a solo shot in the first. Gurriel led off the second with his 11th of the season and third of the series.
The Astros added two more in the fourth on Reddick’s bases-loaded double, but Gurriel was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Blackmon had two hits, including an RBI single in the seventh. Rookie right-hander Peter Lambert (2-1) went five innings in his first major league loss.
“Bregman’s I thought was a pretty good pitch, he kind of turned on it pretty well,” Lambert said. “Gurriel, it was a bad pitch. It was up in the zone and he hammers those.”
Neither the Rockies nor the Astros play on Thursday, marking a rare day off on Independence Day.
“It’s going to be the first 4th of July where I don’t have a reason to go to the ballpark,” Hinch said. “It will be weird. Having a number of teams having the off day, I don’t think many of us know what to do. We’re just so used to coming here and letting the game be our celebration.”
The two-game series at Coors Field included postgame fireworks each night, which helped remind Colorado manager Bud Black about the holiday.
“The actual July 4th is the day we always play,” he said. “But with fireworks on July 2nd and fireworks (Wednesday) night it feels like July 3rd is July 4th.”
Blackmon was named the NL Player of the Month for June after hitting .412 with 10 homers in 22 games and his former teammate, New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu, won the award in the AL after hitting .395 with six homers, 29 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
Black, who managed LeMahieu in 2017 and ’18, spoke highly of him.
“Wherever DJ landed he was going to be the same steady, dependable player he was with us,” Black said. “It’s good to see guys you feel close to do good things. I’m always pulling for the good guys.”
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (10-3, 2.86) will open a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
Rockies: RHP Antonio Senzatela (7-5, 4.83) will make his third start of the season against Arizona in Phoenix on Friday.