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Astros hand Orioles 7th straight loss

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USA Today Sports

Astros hand Orioles 7th straight loss

HOUSTON -- George Springer homered during a six-run second inning, sending Lance McCullers and the Houston Astros over Baltimore 8-4 Sunday for the Orioles' season-worst seventh straight loss.

Springer connected for the second straight game, helping the Astros overcome a 3-0 deficit against Alec Asher (1-3).

McCullers (6-1) allowed five hits and three runs -- two earned -- in six innings. He struck out eight in his fourth straight win.

McCullers' streak of 22 scoreless innings ended when Schoop hit a two-run homer in the first.

Schoop drove in three runs and Mark Trumbo added a solo homer for the Orioles, who have been outscored 38-17 during their skid.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run double with one out in the Houston second inning and scored on a double by Yuli Gurriel to tie it at 3.

Springer for his 11th homer with two outs. Asher watched the ball sail over him and put his hands on his knees and shook his head as Springer rounded the bases.

Josh Reddick followed with a triple and scored on a single by Jose Altuve to push the lead to 6-3. Asher finally got the third out when Carlos Correa hit a grounder in his second at-bat of the inning.

Asher gave up six hits in two innings in his first start since replacing struggling right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation. Jimenez, who had a 7.17 ERA in nine games entering Sunday, allowed five hits and two runs in six innings after Asher's early exit.

Up 2-0, the Orioles the bases with one out in the second on a single by Hyun Soo Kim and two errors. Schoop's single with two outs pushed the lead to 3-0 before McCullers retired Manny Machado to limit the damage.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: CF Adam Jones was out of the lineup for a second straight game because of a sore hip. But manager Buck Showalter said he was feeling better and that he expects him to return on Monday.

Astros: Put RHP Charlie Morton on the 10-day disabled list with a strained muscle in the right side of his back and manager A.J. Hinch said there is no timetable for his return. Mike Fiers, who was moved into the bullpen on Saturday in favor of Brad Peacock, will return to the rotation to make Morton's scheduled start on Tuesday at Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA) is scheduled to start for Baltimore on Monday in the opener of a series against the Yankees. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to the Twins in his last start.

Astros: Brad Peacock (2-0, 0.87) will make his second start of the season on Monday when Houston opens a three-game series at Minnesota. Peacock allowed one hit and no runs while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings of his last start when he filled in when Dallas Keuchel missed one start with a pinched nerve in his neck.

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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