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Astros fall to Giants 5-1 in return from break

Chris Snyder's solo home run was the only highlight on another dismal day for the Houston Astros this season, and even his night ended with him on his back.

Pablo Sandoval tripled and jarred the ball loose from Snyder in a home-plate collision to highlight another solid start by Madison Bumgarner, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Astros 5-1 on Friday night.

"I've got no problem with that," Snyder said of the play. "I came out fine. I just didn't hold onto the ball."

Bumgarner pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and Buster Posey homered as the Giants carried over a dominant All-Star game showing with a bruising performance against the last-place Astros.

Sandoval followed up the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star history with a triple in the eighth. The portly player nicknamed Kung Fu Panda — and listed at a generous 240 pounds — tagged up on Angel Pagan's short fly to left and barreled into Snyder at the plate to jar the ball loose and score.

"That's a lot of mass coming to home plate," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

The plate collision, which has been a hot topic in San Francisco since Posey's season ended a year ago in a play at the plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins, still had players buzzing in the clubhouse after the game and could provide the kind of energy San Francisco needs heading into the season's second half.

And maybe the kind Houston would rather forget.

"We were trying to get something going," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "They were able to shut us down."

Bumgarner (11-5) retired 13 straight until Snyder's solo shot in the seventh inning in another dominating start for the blossoming lefty. He struck out five and walked two, giving praise to fellow Giants lefty Jeremy Affeldt for helping him with a new twist on his curveball that he applied for the first time.

Posey hit his team-leading 11th home run of the season in the first off Wandy Rodriguez, who allowed seven hits and two walks in seven innings. Rodriguez (7-7) also had four strikeouts to begin a 10-game road trip for the last-place Astros.

Santiago Casilla struck out the only two batters he faced for his 22nd save in 26 chances.

"My first two innings, I had trouble with my location," Rodriguez said. "In my second inning, I tried to look for ground balls and they did it, but the ball goes (for) a base hit. That's what I wanted in that situation, ground ball, ground ball and they did that.

After losing five of six to end the season's first half, San Francisco started four players — Posey, Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval and MVP Melky Cabrera — in the Mid-Summer Classic, where they helped the National League roll past the AL 8-0 and brought the momentum back to the Bay Area.

Sandoval credited his bright orange cleats for the near repeat performance — even though he expects a $1,000 fine for his shoes not completely matching the uniform, which were orange shirts and white pants on the usual "Orange Friday." As for the play, he also called it clean.

"It's tough," said Sandoval, a former catcher converted to third base. "He was in great position and I was in great position, so nobody got hurt. I see the ball coming, and I put my head down and you have to go."

Even before the collision, the Giants looked more like a team ready to erase the Dodgers' half-game lead in the NL West than the one that stumbled before the break.

Posey showed some immediate pop when he drove a ball over the wall in center field and off the roof of a concession stand near the black backdrop in center field to give the Giants a 2-0 lead in the first. A ballpark scoreboard estimated the shot at 448 feet, landing in a place — and with the kind of acceleration — rarely seen at AT&T Park since home run king Barry Bonds retired.

Pagan, Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias each singled to open the second to put San Francisco ahead 4-0. Before Bumgarner even returned to the mound, he had all the supported he needed.

"Was kind of nervous," Bumgarner said. "Didn't know how to feel with the time off."

The left-hander brought his season total to 104 strikeouts — reaching the century mark by getting Brian Bixler swinging for the second out in the first — and never faced any serious opposition from a depleted Astros lineup.

Bumgarner, who pitched a one-hitter for his first complete game two starts ago against Cincinnati, gave up a single to Jed Lowrie leading off the second. He later walked Matt Downs with two outs before getting Rodriguez out on a soft liner to short.

Bumgarner plowed through the Astros lineup for the next four innings until Snyder pulled his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall, clearing the on-site ambulance and skipping down the ballpark's tunnel.

NOTES: Houston reliever Wilton Lopez returned to the active roster after missing 26 games with a sprained right elbow. Astros manager Brad Mills said he wants to limit Lopez to about 25 pitches whenever he pitches again. ... Giants RHP Tim Lincecum (3-10, 6.42 ERA) faces Houston RHP Lucas Harell (7-6, 4.56 ERA) on Saturday.