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Astros use 2 homers to beat Royals for 11th straight win

Houston Astros’ Brian McCann celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a single by Norichika Aoki during the second inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Monday, June 5, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Houston Astros scored early and late to keep up their winning ways.

Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer, Brian McCann had a two-run shot and the Astros beat the Kansas City Royals 7-3 on Monday night for their 11th straight win.

It’s the longest winning streak in the majors this season and one shy of the Astros’ record. They won 12 straight in 1999 and 2004.

McCann homered in the fourth after Marwin Gonzalez walked to lead off the inning. He had been 1 for 16 in five games since returning from a concussion.

“I haven’t been swinging the bat well since I’ve come back off the DL,” McCann said. “I’ve made some minor adjustments and was able to drive the ball to left-center and when I’m doing that, it’s a good sign.”

Gurriel homered in the ninth off Kelvin Herrera. He has gone deep in back-to-back games and has 10 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.

“We got after them early and then they put on a little bit of a push and it got really close,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Then obviously Yuli’s home run off of Herrera was a big punch for us.”

McCann started a two-run second inning with a one-out double and scored on Nori Aoki’s single. George Springer’s two-out single scored Gurriel, who had walked.

Houston has won 11 consecutive road games, which is a franchise record. The team is 22-6 away from home this season.

“We don’t sit there feeling like, ‘Boy they look like they are going to win tonight,'” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But you look at their team and what they’re doing, I’m sure that’s their attitude and their feeling.”

Astros starter Mike Fiers (3-2) worked five innings plus two batters. He was charged with two runs, seven hits and a walk. Fiers is 6-0 in his past 10 road starts dating to Aug. 20.

“You can throw strikes, but they’ve got to be in good spots, especially against a team that swings a lot like these guys,” Fiers said. “They come out swinging early, so pitch one is huge.”

The Royals scored a pair of runs in the second. Brandon Moss doubled to score Eric Hosmer, while Alcides Escobar’s bunt single got Mike Moustakas home.

Rookie Jorge Bonifacio homered off James Hoyt in the seventh to trim the lead to 4-3.

The Royals had Hosmer at third and Moustakas at first with none out in the sixth, but failed to score. Moss and Escobar struck out to end the inning.

Ian Kennedy (0-6) took the loss, giving up four runs, six hits and three walks over five innings. Kennedy, who is in the second season of a five-year, $70 million contract, is winless in 14 starts since a Sept. 11 victory.

“Jason (Hammel) and I know we can pitch better than we have been,” Kennedy said. “And it’s going to get a lot better. That’s what I keep telling myself. It can always get better. I see some good things from us.”

Whit Merrifield went 0 for 5 to snap his 19-game hitting streak, which is the longest in the majors this season.

LINEUP SHUFFLE

Yost moved Merrifield to the top of the batting order and rookie Bonifacio to the second slot.

“I’m just trying to find some production,” Yost said. “We got shutout for the sixth time (Sunday).”

“The quickest way to end a 19-game streak,” he added, “is to move him to the leadoff spot, so I guess I’ll take credit for that.”

Moustakas, who has been batting second, was moved to sixth. He has 14 home runs, but 10 are solos.

“In the 2-hole, there haven’t been a whole lot of RBI opportunities for him,” Yost said.

Alcides Escobar was dropped from leadoff to eighth. Ironically, the Royals are 14-11 when Escobar, who has a .204 on-base percentage, leads off and 2-9 when Merrifield hits first.

NOT A THIEF

Springer was out attempting to steal second ending the second inning. He is 0 for 3 in stolen base attempts this season. He last attempted a steal on April 4.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Joe Musgrove (right shoulder discomfort) could come off the disabled list Sunday and start against the Angels. “A possibility, yes,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He is trending in the right direction.” Musgrove played catch Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list May 27. If all goes well, he will throw a bullpen Thursday. … Gonzalez left in the seventh inning with discomfort in his left hand.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP David Paulino struck out eight Twins in four innings Wednesday in his first big league start this season.

Royals: RHP Jake Junis is being recalled from Triple-A Omaha and will make his second big league start. In his last two Pacific Coast League starts, Junis allowed one earned run, struck out 21 and walked four in 13 1/3 innings.

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