CLEVELAND — Justin Verlander pitched six scoreless innings for his MLB-leading 15th victory, Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado each homered and had three RBIs, and the AL West-leading Houston Astros beat the Cleveland Guardians 6-0 Thursday night.
Verlander (15-3), making his comeback from Tommy John surgery, extended his winning streak to seven starts and moved into a tie with Herb Pennock for 55th place all-time with 241 victories. He gave up two hits, both singles, and struck out five.
In addition to leading the majors in wins, Verlander leads with a 1.73 ERA. The right-hander is 11-16 in his career at Progressive Field, where his 5.17 ERA is the highest of any ballpark that he has pitched in more than twice.
Will Smith, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton completed the three-hitter, helping Houston move within 1 1/2 games of the idle Yankees for the best record in the AL.
McCormick gave the Astros a 2-0 lead with run-scoring singles in the third and fifth off Cleveland starter Zach Plesac (2-10). Maldonado added a two-run double in the fifth against Nick Sandlin to make it 4-0.
McCormick and Maldonado struck again in the seventh with solo homers, the 11th of the season for both, off Kirk McCarty. McCormick equaled his career high with three hits.
The Guardians entered the day one game behind AL Central leader Minnesota and one game out of the final wild-card spot. Steven Kwan, Josh Naylor and Austin Hedges accounted for their hits in the loss.
Kwan matched Boston’s J.D. Martinez for the longest hitting streak in the AL this year at 18 games. It also is the longest run by a rookie since Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes had a 19-gamer in 2020-2021.
Plesac remained winless since June 5 in Baltimore, allowing four runs, seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander is 0-6 in his last 10 starts and has dropped all five of his decisions in night games.
Houston left eight runners on base over the first three innings and stranded 11 overall.
Cleveland has split the first four games of its seven-game homestand.
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