HOUSTON — Having cornered the market on five-run deficits and comeback victories, the Houston Astros built a five-run lead as a change of pace Tuesday night.
Right-hander Charlie Morton, the beneficiary of a five-run first inning, carried a shutout into the sixth, and Houston belted three home runs in an 8-3 interleague victory over the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park.
Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick all homered in support of Morton (4-2), who won his third consecutive start. Correa and Beltran hit their fourth and third home runs, respectively, in the first inning before Reddick followed with his fourth homer into the Astros’ bullpen in the fifth.
Beltran and Reddick each finished 2-for-4 with two runs.
Houston (22-11) hit all three homers off Braves right-hander Bartolo Colon (1-4), who allowed eight runs on eight hits with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
“He was making mistakes over the plate and we were able to capitalize and able to put good swings on those mistakes,” Correa said of Colon. “After that he settled in and he was able to spot the ball where he needed to throw and it was a little bit tougher for us to score some runs.
“But it was good that we came early out of the gate, scored some runs, got a comfortable lead, and were able to keep scoring runs for us to win the game.”
Morton allowed three runs (one earned) and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out five.
Morton faced only three batters over the minimum through five innings before slogging through eight batters and allowing three runs in the sixth.
Following an error by Correa at shorstop, Morton allowed RBI singles to Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis before departing after issuing a bases-loaded walk to Dansby Swanson.
Right-hander Chris Devenski emerged from the bullpen and struck out Danny Santana with the bases loaded to end the threat.
The Braves (11-19) have dropped five games in a row and seven of eight.
“It’s hard to keep (going) down four, five (runs) after two or three (innings) consistently,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It kind of wears at you.
“We just keep fighting that uphill battle all the time.”
The Astros pounced swiftly in the bottom of the first inning with a sequence of hard-hit balls at Colon that might have knocked out a less experienced pitcher.
Houston opened the game with three straight singles and took a 1-0 lead when Jose Altuve plated George Springer with his hit up the middle to center field. Following the singles, Correa and Beltran supplied significantly more power.
Correa drilled a 1-0 pitch 438 feet to straightaway center field, extending the lead to 4-0. Beltran followed with a 428-foot blast into the first row of the upper deck in right as the Astros secured a five-run lead before Colon recorded an out.
“Yeah it was an old battle,” Beltran, 40, said with a laugh of his homer off the 43-year-old Colon.
“It was huge. Every time you’re capable of scoring early in the game you give your team a sense of confidence that we can get to this guy and we can score a lot of runs. So being able to score five was huge for us.”
Colon steadied himself quickly and retired 10 consecutive batters before Brian McCann reached on an error with one out in the fourth.
It wasn’t until Reddick belted his 100th career home run with one out in the fifth that the Astros found the scoreboard again as they took a 6-0 lead.
“In the first inning, typical of the game plan, I was throwing a lot of fastballs, and they are all good hitters and they were prepared,” Colon said. “They jumped on me.”
NOTES: The Braves acquired INF/OF Danny Santana from the Minnesota Twins on Monday in exchange for LHP Kevin Chapman and cash considerations. Santana was in the starting lineup and went 0-for-4 while playing left field. … The Astros activated RHP Michael Feliz from the family medical emergency list to replace RHP Dayan Diaz, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on Sunday. Diaz did not appear in a game with Houston following his selection to the roster on May 5. … The Braves optioned OF Lane Adams to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday and transferred INF Micah Johnson (fractured right wrist) to the 60-day disabled list. Adams appeared in nine games for the Braves.