TB@HOU: Porter talks about tough loss to Rays

HOUSTON -- Following Sunday's series finale with Tampa Bay, the Astros go on the road to visit the Nationals for two games starting on Tuesday, meaning there will be no designated hitter.

Astros manager Bo Porter said his pitchers have been taking batting practice for a few weeks. Most importantly, Porter said the pitchers have to get their bunts down.

"When you play Interleague games, you want to make it out healthy," said Porter. "You don't want one of those [pitchers] pulling anything or straining anything. But [Dallas] Keuchel can handle the bat, which is good.

"When you're in a National League game, if you're going to make an out, make it a productive out. At least move somebody 90 feet."

Fields leaves game with right forearm strain

Josh Fields was pulled Saturday after a forearm strain.

HOUSTON -- Astros reliever Josh Fields was taken out of Saturday's game while warming up to go back in for the top of the ninth inning with a muscle strain in his right forearm.

"He felt it on the second warmup pitch and felt some discomfort," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "So at that point there's no sense in trying to work through it right there. We allowed the trainers and doctors to take a look at him."

Fields was replaced by Josh Zeid, who retired the Rays in order in Houston's 7-3 win at Minute Maid Park.

Fields faced only one batter. The right-hander got pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe to fly out to right fielder George Springer to end the Rays' eighth inning.

Former Astro Pittman passes away at age 60

HOUSTON -- Houston native Joe Pittman, a former player, scout and longtime member of the Astros' organization, has passed away at the age of 60.

An infielder, Pittman was drafted by the Astros in 1975 and played for the club for two seasons (1981-82). Known as "Shoes," he also played in the Major Leagues for San Diego ('82) and San Francisco ('84). Pittman later served as a scout for the Astros from 1988-2003, which included a stint as a Minor League instructor in 1996.

The Astros released a statement Saturday that said, "We are saddened to learn of the passing of Joe Pittman, who was a member of the Astros organization for many years as a player, scout and Minor League instructor.

"To those that played with him, Joe was known as a fun and enthusiastic individual that brought energy to the ball club. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joe's family and many friends throughout the game and beyond."

Altuve sits again with hand injury; listed as day to day

ARI@HOU: Altuve exits after getting hit by a pitch

HOUSTON -- Second baseman Jose Altuve was out of the Astros' lineup on Saturday for a second straight game, recovering after being hit in the right hand while attempting to bunt on Thursday against the D-backs. Marwin Gonzalez was back at second base, batting eighth in the order against Tampa Bay.

"They're going to give me another day," said Altuve. "I feel really good but I'm not ready for a 95-mph fastball. I'm not ready for everything."

Altuve fielded ground balls during batting practice, with some throwing. There's still a little swelling and soreness on his bruised hand from the effects of being hit by Randall Delgado.

"He's made tremendous progress," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "He'll continue to be day to day.

"You want your guys to want to play. It's good to see how quickly he's recovering, but at the same time we have to make sure it's not going to have any lingering effect -- that he'll be able to play the way he's capable of playing."

A 2012 National League All-Star, Altuve leads the Majors with 90 hits and is tied for first in multi-hit games with 26. Altuve leads the American League in steals (24) and has made only two errors.

Deep center-field wall robs Carter of home run

ARI@HOU: Carter's solo shot wins it in the 10th

HOUSTON -- In Friday's game, Tampa Bay center fielder Desmond Jennings ran up on Tal's Hill to catch a long fly ball hit by the Astros' Chris Carter. The ball traveled well over 400 feet, but it was well short of the center-field wall, 436 feet from home plate.

Following Friday's 6-1 loss to the Rays, Astros manager Bo Porter said he was no fan of Tal's Hill, which has a 10-degree, uphill slope.

On Saturday, Carter said he wasn't particularly fond of Tal's Hill either.

"You hit a ball like that last night, you know off the bat it should be a home run," said Carter. "And the guy's catching it atop the hill. You're like, 'Great.' I've hit a couple this year that haven't gone out. I had a triple at the top of the hill against Seattle that should have been a home run."

First-year Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler had to navigate Tal's Hill while a member of the Colorado Rockies. This year he hasn't had many plays to make on the hill.

"I've gotten one ball out there and it barely went to the hill," Fowler said. "So it's not an obstacle you have to go through too many times, but you're still aware it's out there.

"It's more for the fans than anything. Just to see a hill out there is something different. The good thing is there's a warning track there." 

Worth noting

The Astros' second-round pick of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, Kentucky left-hander and first baseman A.J. Reed, on Saturday was awarded the Dick Howser Trophy, college baseball's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, which is given to the nation's top college baseball player.

Reed led NCAA Division I in home runs (23), slugging percentage (.735) and OPS (1.211), while ranking second in total bases (164) and third in RBIs (73).

First baseman Jon Singleton is the second player in Astros history to hit four home runs in his first 11 games. J.D. Martinez (2011) was the first.

The Astros have the youngest Major League roster with an average age of 27.4. Baltimore is second at 27.6 and Atlanta third at 27.7.