HOUSTON (AP) — After struggling recently while pitching out of the stretch, Brad Peacock went to a full windup Wednesday night and found a little something extra.
Michael Brantley homered twice, Peacock pitched seven innings and Josh James completed the three-hitter in Houston’s 9-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Peacock (3-2) allowed three hits and set a career high with 12 strikeouts to help the Astros bounce back after a 12-2 loss Tuesday night. Peacock also rebounded after allowing seven runs in just 3 2/3 innings in his previous start. James struck out five in the last two innings.
“The story of the day for me is the adjustment he made,” manager AJ Hinch said. “His delivery out of the windup has much more rhythm, much more energy. The ball came out better, his execution was better and ultimately his results were better. That’s as good as he’s gotten into a game, and he held it his entire outing. It was an excellent night for him.”
Peacock, who said it was the first time he’d pitch from the windup since 2016, called Wednesday’s start the best of his career.
“What I was doing really wasn’t working too well so I had to make a change,” he said. “I felt really good tonight. I was able to get some rhythm out there and throw my stuff for strikes.”
Kansas City manager Ned Yost said Peacock was tough all night.
“You could tell early on that his stuff was good, his location was good,” he said. “His execution was good. He was keeping his fastball down and away and had a really good slider down and away so you just knew you were in for a battle.”
George Springer and Carlos Correa also homered to give the Astros 16 home runs combined in their past five games.
Springer gave Houston an early lead with his MLB-leading fourth leadoff homer this season and the 28th of his career. It’s the second time this week he’s led off the game with a homer after also doing so in a 6-4 win on Monday.
Houston led 2-0 with one out and one on in the third when Brantley sent a pitch from Jorge Lopez (0-4) into the seats in right field behind the bullpen to make it 4-0.
Correa followed with his shot to straightaway center to give Houston back-to-back homers for the third time this season. Josh Reddick singled before Yuli Gurriel doubled to chase Lopez. He was replaced by Jake Newberry, and Aledmys Diaz’s sacrifice fly scored Reddick to extend the lead to 6-0.
Brantley connected again with two outs in the fourth inning to make it 7-0 and give him his fifth career multihomer game and the first since 2015.
Lopez allowed six hits and six runs while walking three in 2 1/3 innings to remain winless in eight starts this season.
Peacock had allowed just one hit when Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton hit consecutive singles with one out in the fifth inning. Peacock plunked Whit Merrifield to load the bases, but struck out Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier to escape the jam.
Those were the first of eight straight batters Peacock retired to end his night. He struck out six in that span, including Martin Maldonado for the first out of the seventh inning. Both Maldonado and Yost were ejected for arguing that strikeout.
Yost and Lopez were unhappy with the strike zone.
“I found it very inconsistent,” Yost said. “I don’t mind two inches off the plate as long as we’re both getting it, and we weren’t getting the same pitches.”
Yost pointed to the fact that his team struck out looking eight times.
“Our guys know the strike zone,” he said. “I don’t mind an inch or two off the plate. Strike three, you can’t recover from it. I’m fine with that. Just do it both ways. And by my count, it was like 8-1.”
Royals: RHP Homer Bailey (3-3, 5.25 ERA) will start the first of three games against the Phillies on Friday after a day off on Thursday. He allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings of a 15-3 win over the Tigers in his previous start.
Astros: LHP Wade Miley (2-2, 3.20) is scheduled to pitch for Houston when the team opens a four-game series against Texas on Thursday. Miley has held teams to three earned runs or fewer in 23 straight starts and needs two strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career.