Bixler leads Houston to 9-7 win against Royals

Monday, June 18, 2012 | 10:38 p.m. CDT; updated 11:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 18, 2012
Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas (8) looks away as Houston Astros' Justin Maxwell (44) rounds third base in the first inning of a game Monday in Houston. Maxwell scored from first base on a throwing error by Royals pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.

HOUSTON — Brian Bixler drove in a career-high three runs on three hits, including his first career homer, and Justin Maxwell and Brian Bogusevic also homered as the Houston Astros held off the Kansas City Royals for a 9-7 win Monday night.

J.A. Happ (5-7) yielded four hits and two runs in 6-plus innings to break a four-game losing streak. It was his first start since allowing 11 hits and eight runs — both career highs — in Houston's 10-0 loss to San Francisco in which Matt Cain threw a perfect game.

Maxwell hit a two-run homer after Bogusevic's solo shot in Houston's five-run eighth inning.

Jonathan Sanchez (1-3) allowed six hits and four runs in six innings in his second start since a month-long stint on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left biceps.

Things got dicey for the Astros in the ninth with a tough outing by closer Brett Myers, who allowed four consecutive singles with one out to make it 9-3. The Royals got another run on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Mitch Maier and Yuniesky Betancourt's bases-loaded single scored two more.

Billy Butler had an RBI single to get Kansas City within 9-7 and bring loud boos from the crowd.  The eighth hit of the inning, a single by Jeff Francoeur, chased Myers, bringing in Xavier Cedeno, who retired Mike Moustakas to get his first save.

Bixler's solo homer came on a shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field that tied it 1-1 in the first. Maxwell walked and later scored from first on an error by Sanchez  when he badly missed a throw to first base on a pickoff attempt to make it 2-1.

Sanchez plunked Chris Johnson to start Houston's fourth inning. Sanchez's second botched pickoff attempt of the game allowed Johnson to advance to third, and he scored on a one-out single by Chris Snyder to make it 3-1.

After Johnson scored in the fourth, Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch with two outs before a single by Bixler loaded the bases. Maxwell walked to make it 4-1, but Sanchez retired Carlos Lee.

Betancourt tripled with one out in the first and scored on a two-out single by Francoeur to put Kansas City up 1-0.

Happ retired 13 of the next 14 batters before Alex Gordon doubled to start the sixth. Gordon advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Butler to cut the lead to 4-2.

Bogusevic's first-pitch homer in the eighth inning came off reliever Louis Coleman, who was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Monday to help reinforce a bullpen that pitched nine innings in a 15-inning win over St. Louis on Sunday.

Snyder walked and Altuve singled before Bixler sent them both home on a double to make it 7-2. Maxwell's eighth homer of the season wrapped up Houston's scoring.

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