By Brett Dolan

The Astros rode Joe Musgrove’s most dominant performance of the season to a 2-0 shutout over Baltimore Friday night at Minute Maid Park. Musgrove scattered just four hits in seven scoreless frames while not walking a batter and striking out six.

The win improved the Astros (33-16) to 17 games above .500, tying their high water mark for the season.

The major threat offered by the Orioles came in the eighth when Chris Devenski was summoned from the pen and allowed a double, an infield single and a bunt hit to load the bases with no outs. After striking out Seth Smith and inducing a shallow fly ball from Adam Jones, Devenski watched Manny Machado blast a long fly ball to deep right center before it settled in the glove of George Springer for the final out of the inning.

“Devo had done really nothing wrong and ended up in one of the biggest jams he has been in,” said manager A.J. Hinch. “He gets the pop up that wasn’t deep enough to score him and then the match-up everyone came to see which is one of the best relievers against Manny Machado and we won by seven feet or so.”

Ken Giles threw a perfect ninth inning to earn his American League best 14th save.

Musgrove commanded his fastball and breaking balls and pithed with what his manager called a certain “conviction” Friday. He credited a lot of work with pitching coach Brent Strom in addition to film study to get back on track after allowing seven runs in his last start against Cleveland.

“I am really kind of happy about getting some of the trust back from some of my teammates,” Musgrove admitted. “Not to say that they have been down on me but it’s tough to go out there and put together bad outing after bad outing and feel like your teammates aren’t really confident going into that day. So I am happy I can put a good one out and hopefully continue to build off it.”

The Astros got both of their runs on solo homers. Jake Marisnick blasted a Kevin Gausman offering to the train tracks in the third to start the scoring. Carlos Beltran connected on a shot to right field in the sixth inning. Marisnick’s homer was his sixth of the year, more than he hit all of last season (five).

Dallas Keuchel and Brian McCann will be activated for game two of the series, Saturday night at 6:15 p.m. Keuchel will start against Baltimore’s Wade Miley.



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