Carter, Astros back Norris with power surge
Left fielder delivers with two homers, five RBIs; Castro, Laird add solo shots
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Chris Carter walloped a pair of two-run home runs in consecutive at-bats, and the left fielder drove in five runs to back a strong outing by starter Bud Norris and send the Astros to an 11-2 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Carter, acquired from Oakland in last month's Jed Lowrie trade, drove in a run on a fielder's choice in the first inning before hitting a long homer to left-center in the third off Brandon Morrow. Carter hit another long homer to left field in the fifth to put the Astros ahead, 7-2.
"I don't really think about hitting home runs that much," Carter said. "I try to make solid contact and whatever happens, happens. If I have four or five, that's good, but if I hit one or two that's fine, too."
Jason Castro homered to center field to lead off the sixth inning for his fourth homer of the spring, and Brandon Laird added his fourth Grapefruit League homer to extend the lead to 9-2.
Jake Elmore doubled to drive in Tyler Greene -- who had just reached on an error that allowed Trevor Crowe to score -- in the eighth inning for the Astros' 11th run of the game.
Norris, making his fourth start, became the first Astros pitcher to throw six innings this spring when he held the Blue Jays to three hits, two runs and two walks to keep Houston's strong run of starting pitching going. Lucas Harrell threw four hitless innings Saturday.
"The pitch count is going to get up there, but it's the up and downs for me," Norris said. "But they felt good, and it's good to get back out there and throw eight warmup pitches and attack every inning. The strength is coming and we've got time to build on it."
Morrow allowed seven hits and seven runs (six earned) in 4 2/3 innings in his fourth start of the spring.
Up next for Astros: The Astros are off Monday, but Jordan Lyles (0-3), who's had a rough spring so far, tries to right the ship when the starts for the Astros against the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Dunedin, Fla. Lyles has pitched eight innings this spring in four outings, allowing 26 hits and 17 earned runs.