HOUSTON — The Cleveland Indians' wild-card hopes took another hit on Monday night with their fourth straight loss.
The Indians know they have to figure out a way to get back on track immediately and aren't giving up on the postseason just yet.
"We're in this thing until they tell me we're out of it," left fielder Michael Brantley said. "That's how I look at it. That is how everyone in this locker room looks at it. We need to score more runs, we need to play better baseball. There is no other way to put it."
The loss dropped the Indians to six games back for the second AL wild card.
Indians starter Zach McAllister (3-7) allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings in his first major league start since July 31.
Altuve, the major league hits leader, is just one hit shy of tying the franchise record of 210, set by Craig Biggio in 1998.
The Astros trailed by one in the third inning with runners at second and third when Altuve's single scored them both to put Houston up 2-1.
"It's almost easier to face some of those bigger guys who have longer swings," McAllister said of Altuve. "For him, he's got such a short swing, and he knows how to manipulate the bat to always put a good swing on it. He's a great hitter."
Houston starter Collin McHugh (10-9) allowed five hits and one run — none earned — in 6 2-3 innings, to extend his career-long winning streak to six games. He left after taking a comebacker to his left arm in the seventh.
He was able to get the ball to first for an out on the play before leaving with what the team called a bruised forearm.
Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save.
Altuve, whose .342 average leads the majors, has a career-high 54 RBIs and Monday was his 63rd multhit game of the season, which extends a franchise record.
He singled in the fifth and his third hit was a triple to the right field corner in the eighth inning. The Astros added an insurance run when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler in the eighth.
Chris Carter, who is third in the majors with 36 home runs, went 0 for 4 on Monday to snap a career-high 12-game hitting streak.
Indians: OF Ryan Raburn missed a second straight game after leaving Saturday's game with a hyperextended left knee. Raburn traveled with the team to Houston, but manager Terry Francona said he might need to go back to Cleveland to be evaluated. "He's still pretty tender, pretty sore," Francona said. "The fact that he came in and was still pretty tender we need to get him looked at." He said he'd have more information on Tuesday.
Astros: The team still hasn't decided if OF George Springer (left quadriceps strain) will play again this season. The rookie has been out since July 20. "If he's totally healthy then we have no problem (playing him), Lawless said. "To be over-cautious is probably better than to be under-cautious at this time."
Houston's Nick Tropeano will make his second major league start against right-hander Corey Kluber in the second game of the four-game series. Tropeano allowed two runs in five innings to get the win in his debut on Wednesday. Kluber's 15 wins this season are the most for the Indians since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008.
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