HOUSTON — For a brief spell early last month, Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa didn’t resemble the MVP candidate some predicted he would become in this, his third season in the majors.
Those concerns were unfounded.
Correa stroked a two-out, two-run double in the fifth inning to help the Astros produce their major-league-leading 15th comeback win with a 4-2 interleague victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.
Correa keyed the Astros’ three-run fifth with his double down the left-field line off Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-2), who was sharp early and eluded danger in the fourth inning after allowing a run with two outs in the bottom of the third.
Carlos Beltran and Jose Altuve set the table for Correa, reaching via a single and a walk, respectively. Two batters after Correa plated both, Yuli Gurriel brought home Correa with a single as Houston (23-11) completed the two-game sweep.
“The proof is out there every day when he’s starting to contribute every game,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Correa, who has 10 doubles over his last 14 games. “His defense has taken an uptick; obviously, his offense has been very much the norm for him.
“He was part of a long string of hitters that went up and had really good at-bats. Patience is good in this game when you hang with guys and talent wins out over time. I know he had a little bit of a rough start to the season but I think him being up in the middle of the order with the game on the line is exactly what he thrives in.”
The Braves (11-20) have lost six consecutive games.
Corner infielders Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia smacked solo home runs off Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove in the fourth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit. For Freeman, it was his 12th homer on the season; Garcia clubbed his fourth into the first row of seats in right.
Musgrove (2-3) otherwise managed the traffic on the bases. He induced double plays in the second and fourth innings and was the beneficiary of another double play in the first when he struck out Brandon Phillips to conclude a 10-pitch at-bat before catcher Evan Gattis erased Ender Inciarte as he attempted to steal second.
“My sinker was better today; I was able to get some quick outs with that,” Musgrove said. “And then the slider. If I can command the inside part of the plate with the sinker that makes the slider that much more effective. I was able to get some weak contact and try to keep us in the game as long as I could.”
Following the Garcia homer, Musgrove retired the final seven batters he faced, completing six innings while allowing two runs on four hits and three walks.
Astros right-hander Will Harris loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but struck out Matt Kemp to preserve the lead. That followed strikeouts of Inciarte and Phillips after Dansby Swanson and Emilio Bonifacio singled to open the frame.
“It’s tough. Just get a hit, put the ball in play, whatever,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the strikeouts. “It’s a rough go right now on everything if you get right down to it. We just got to keep grinding and working and eventually you handle something like this and good things will happen on the other end of it.”
Astros closer Ken Giles followed Harris by retiring the Braves in order in the ninth to record his ninth save. The Astros have won nine of 11 series this season.
The Braves, conversely, have dropped eight of nine games. They finished 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
“One day we pitch well and we don’t hit and one day we hit well and don’t pitch,” Kemp said. “We’ve just all got to get on the same page. We have a great baseball team. We’re just not playing good right now.
“We’re definitely better than our record. We feel like we’re better than our record but we’re just not getting the job done.”
NOTES: With Braves LHP Jaime Garcia retiring the side in order in the first inning, it marked the first time in eight games Atlanta did not allow a first-inning run. The Braves were outscored 13-3 in the first inning over the previous seven games. … Astros manager A.J. Hinch moved into 10th place in franchise history on Tuesday night with his 192nd managerial win, bypassing Harry Craft (1962-64). Jimy Williams, who won 215 games from 2002-04, is ninth on the list. … The Braves fell to 2-14 when CF Ender Inciarte fails to score a run.