Cleveland, OH – Scott Kazmir threw seven-plus shutout innings Saturday to lead the Indians to a 4-1 win over Houston, keeping Cleveland in the second AL wild card spot.
Kazmir (9-9) struck out 10 and gave up just four hits and a walk following a 1-5 stretch in his last seven starts.
Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer during a three-run first inning for the Indians, who have won the first three games of this four-game set, including Friday's rain-shortened 2-1 victory in seven innings.
The Indians (85-70) trail the Rays (85-69) by percentage points for the AL wild card lead.
Paul Clemens, in his fourth start since being called back up to the majors last month, took the loss for Houston. Clemens (4-6) gave up eight hits, four runs and three walks in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four.
The Astros have dropped eight in a row and are 51-104, three losses from tying the franchise record set last season.
"It's tough. You look at the schedule we had remaining and we were definitely excited coming into the back end of this season knowing we were playing teams fighting for their playoff lives and frankly put, we just haven't played well," said Astros manager Bo Porter.
The Indians are 14-6 this month and in the midst of 10 straight games against non-contending teams to finish the season.
"It's not going to be easy no matter who you're playing," said Indians center fielder Michael Bourn. "You got to have that intensity every day."
Brantley's two-run homer gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Jason Kipnis had a sacrifice fly earlier in the inning after Bourn doubled and Nick Swisher singled to start the game.
Yan Gomes led off the fourth with a double and scored on Lonnie Chisenhall's single for a 4-0 lead.
Chris Carter homered with two outs in the ninth off Joe Smith for Houston's only run.
The Indians have won eight of their last 10 ... The Astros have at least 104 losses in three straight seasons.