HOUSTON (AP) — Fresh off his shortest start of the season, Detroit Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly would rather not discuss his health.
Never mind that less than 24 earlier, he had been so ill he was sent back to the team hotel.
“I was sick yesterday – I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Smyly said. “It’s whatever.”
He needn’t say much. His pitching told the tale.
Smyly (4-7) gave up four earned runs in just 2 1-3 innings Sunday, and the Tigers closed an otherwise successful road trip with a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros.
“Today he was feeling pretty bad, but good enough to pitch, obviously,” Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. “You know, he battled his butt off and tried to give everything he had today.
“It was unfortunate he left a couple of breaking balls up, and they capitalized.”
Smyly said he battled hot/cold sweats and his sinuses Saturday, but said he felt fine to take the mound.
“I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want you to write about it, honestly,” Smyly told reporters. “It’s whatever.
“I don’t know what (Detroit manager) Brad (Ausmus) said, but it had no effect on my (performance).”
Also unfortunate for the Tigers was how Houston pitchers contained big hitters Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, who combined to go 1 for 7 on Sunday and 1 for 25 in the series.
“Those are the guys we lean on,” Ausmus said. “They are going to have struggles. It’s going to happen.”
The Astros had no such problems.
Scott Feldman threw six strong innings, Jose Altuve had three hits and two steals, and Houston held on for the win.
Matt Dominguez and Carlos Corporan had three hits apiece and L.J. Hoes and Jon Singleton each had two RBIs for the Astros, who have won three of their last four games.
Altuve leads the major leagues with 116 hits and has a career high 36 stolen bases. He set a franchise record with a stolen base in six straight games with his swipe of second base in the first inning.
Altuve also became the third player since 1904 with four straight games with multiple steals, joining Ray Chapman in 1917 and Bill Dahlen in 1904, according information from the Elias Sports Bureau provided by the Astros.
Tony Sipp got the last four outs for his first save.
Nick Castellanos had two hits for the Tigers, including a two-run triple in the eighth that cut the Astros’ lead to 5-4. J.D. Martinez also had two hits, and Alex Avila hit a solo home run in the fifth for Detroit.
But if Ausmus was concerned, he wasn’t showing it.
“Very good road trip,” Ausmus said of his team going 7-2 on the road. “It’s always a bit of a downer when you lose the last game.
“If you go 7-2 on the road, you do that every trip, and you’re going to be in good shape.”
Feldman (4-5) allowed two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts to earn his first win since May 26. Feldman, who snapped a personal three-game losing streak, has allowed three runs or less in each of his last three starts.
The Astros jumped on Smyly early, plating three in the first. Altuve singled, stole second and scored on George Springer’s double. Two batters later, Jesus Guzman hit an RBI single and scored on Hoes’ sacrifice fly.
After Torii Hunter’s RBI double cut the lead to 3-1 in the third, Hoes answered with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
Singleton’s bases-loaded walk in the sixth scored Alex Presley to extend Houston’s lead to 5-2, and he upped the lead to 6-4 in the eighth with an RBI single.
Smyly’s four runs came on eight hits with three strikeouts and were the most he has allowed since getting tagged for six on May 26 at Oakland.
“Not a good day,” Smyly said. “They came out swinging. I didn’t bring it. They did.”
NOTES: Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler missed a third straight game with tightness in the back. … Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler did not start Sunday getting a day off from Ausmus, but he pinch hit in the eighth and struck out to end his seven-game hitting streak. … Detroit LHP Ian Krol, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 21 with left shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session Saturday and felt good, Ausmus said. … Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.