• Brian L. Barefield

McCullers pitches a gem to help Astros break five-game losing streak.

McCullers was brilliant on the mound for the Astros. Photo Credit/ Houston Astros

A wise man once told me that you must be able to learn from all of your downfalls in life before you truly can appreciate the victories that will come your way.

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1) must be a very quick learner. Just five days after one of his worst games of his career, he throws a gem to help the Astros (7-9) defeat the San Francisco Giants (7-11) by a score of 6-4 to help end a five-game losing streak for the Astros.

“I felt very confident today,” said McCullers who threw seven innings only allowing one hit and no runs. “Good start, bad start, I turn the page the next day and start preparing to pitch well and give my team the best chance to win.”

The 2017 All-Star pitcher was masterful on the mound on Monday night silencing the bats of the Giants with a variety of pitches that kept hitters off balance all night. He retired 19 of the 20 batters he faced in the game. His only mistake came in his final inning of work when he allowed the first hit of the game to Donovan Solano who extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

“It was the wrong pitch,” McCullers said. “I shook it off. It was the wrong pitch and I realized it the second it left my hand. That was on me shaking (the called pitch off) and not throwing the correct pitch in that situation.”

photo credit/ Houston Astros

McCullers looked very strong in his first outing back after giving up a career high eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings of work in Arizona. He attributes that to listening to his catcher Martin Maldonado more this game and trusting the pitches he called for.

“Maldy came to me after my last start and said ‘Papi, I’m going to put in the work, I’m going to put in the preparation,’” McCullers said. “‘You do your thing and trust me when I go out here.’ I think I shook him [off] three times all night. This game, I mean it’s a lot on him and his ability to call pitches and the way the defense played behind me.”

Houston’s bats came to life in the bottom of the third inning adding four runs on timely hits by Correa and Michael Brantley. That would be enough to run Giants rookie Logan Webb (1-1) out of the game. The Astros would add another run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Maldonado hit a solo homerun to break his 0-for-13 slump he had been in. That provided enough runs for Houston to get the win after the bullpen surrendered four runs in just two innings of work.

photo credit/Houston Astros

Manager Dusty Baker was very impressed by McCullers ability to bounce back after his start in Arizona but wasn’t surprised.

“That’s what confidence and perseverance will do for you,” said Baker about McCullers pitching performance. “He was outstanding. He was really, really good.”

Houston will be back in action on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park in the second game of the three-game series against the Giants.

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