Indians 4, Astros 1
CLEVELAND -- Scott Kazmir pitched seven scoreless innings on four hits and Michael Brantley homered as the Cleveland Indians kept pace in the American League wild-card race with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros Saturday night.
The streaking Indians have won eight of their last 10 games while Houston, which absorbed its 104th loss of the season, has lost eight in a row.
Kazmir (9-9) struck out 10 and walked one. In four starts in the month of September Kazmir is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA. In 22 innings he has struck out 32 and walked two. Saturday was the 20th 10-strikeout game of Kazmir's career and his third this season.
The victory keeps the Indians in the second wild-card spot, half-game behind wild-card leader Tampa Bay.
Kazmir faced the minimum three batters in five of the seven innings he pitched. Indians pitchers have held the Astros to two runs in the first three games of the four-game series.
The loss went to Houston starter Paul Clemens (5-5). Clemens in 4 2/3 innings gave up four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Cleveland's offense was led by Brantley, who had a home run and two RBI, Michael Bourn, who had two doubles, and Asdrubal Cabrera, who had a double and two singles.
Houston's only run came on a solo home run by Chris Carter off reliever Joe Smith in the ninth inning.
Cleveland took a 3-0 lead against Clemens in the first inning. Bourn led off with a double and went to third on a single by Nick Swisher. Jason Kipnis' sacrifice fly drove in Bourn with the first run of the game.
Clemens retired the next hitter, but Brantley belted a 2-1 pitch into the seats in right field for his ninth home run but his first since Aug. 9. Brantley's homer gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead.
The Indians made it 4-0 with another run in the fourth. Yan Gomes led off the inning with a double and scored on a single by Lonnie Chisenhall.
Kazmir pitched well in the early going. Kazmir gave up a single to Jonathan Villar leading off the game and then retired the next 11 batters in a row.
NOTES: Houston 1B Chris Carter's 53 RBIs are tied for the third for the most road RBIs in the American League. ... Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer's 2.14 ERA since July 31 is the second lowest in the American League during that span. ... At the start of play on Saturday, the Indians' record of 48-18 vs. teams with losing records was the best in the majors. ... Bourn's next stolen base will be the 300th of his career.