Instead, McHugh's early struggles hurt the Astros in a 4-2 loss to Miami.
Garrett Jones' homer capped the three-run first for the Marlins, and Marcell Ozuna padded the lead with his solo shot in the sixth.
The Astros, who had never previously been swept at home by the Marlins, have lost seven of nine since the All-Star break and eight of 10 overall.
"As a starter, I pride myself on giving my team a shutdown inning to start the game so they can come up to bat with a fresh slate," McHugh said. "Not exactly how you want to draw it up."
McHugh (4-9), back from a disabled list stint caused by a finger blister, made his first start since July 6 and gave up four runs and seven hits 6 1-3 innings with nine strikeouts. He has lost six straight starts.
"When you start talking ... (records) for a starting pitcher, a lot of things have to go right," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "You can pitch well and still not factor into the decision. We've got to score runs. That's pretty much the difference in the game."
Jacob Turner (4-6) allowed one run and six hits in 5 2-3 innings to win his second start since moving from the bullpen. Steve Cishek allowed one run in the ninth before getting his 26th save in 29 chances.
Altuve homered and singled twice for his second straight three-hit game and 18th this year. He leads the major leagues with a .344 average and 148 hits, and he also swiped his AL-best 42nd base.
Altuve's second leadoff homer of the season and third of his career cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom half. His batting average after Sunday's game was 70 points higher than the Astros' next best hitter in the starting lineup.
"You have to score runs," Porter said. "Right now, we're just not getting the big hit. Altuve continues to swing the bat well, but we need some other guys to get it going."
Miami's Giancarlo Stanton entered hitting .303 with two homers and six RBIs since the break, but after an 0 for 4 day with four strikeouts, Stanton has fanned in six straight at-bats.
"Stanton is one of the best players in the game, and you won't see that too often," Porter said.
Christian Yelich hit a leadoff single and scored on a triple by Jordany Valdespin, who came home on Casey McGehee's sacrifice fly. Jones made it 3-0 with his 11th homer, a drive about five rows into the eight-field stands.
Ozuna extended the lead to 4-1 with a sixth-inning homer into the Crawford Boxes in left.
Singleton's ninth-inning homer off Cishek was his first since July 7 and stopped an 0 for 11 skid.
"It's been a while since I hit a ball hard," said Singleton, who is hitting just .178. "It's always nice when you can hit a ball like. Hopefully we can pick up some momentum from what happened."
NOTES: RHP Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft, has been promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi from Class A Lancaster, where he was 2-5 with a 9.74 ERA in 12 starts. ... The Astros recalled RHP Paul Clemens from Triple-A Oklahoma City before the game. ... Brett Oberholtzer is scheduled to pitch for Houston on Monday, when the Astros open a three-game series with Oakland.