CORPUS CHRISTI - The hitting stars for Corpus Christi were numerous Tuesday night.
A.J. Reed posted four hits in four trips. Jon Kemmer cracked a three-run round-tripper and singled twice. Teoscar Hernandez homered and doubled.
But the most scrutinized player on the roster was Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers, who saw his first action in 15 days.
McCullers and Edison Frias teamed for 11 strikeouts over the first seven frames as the Hooks beat Arkansas 8-4 at Whataburger Field before 4,510.
Corpus Christi (29-22; 77-44) has won three straight. The Travs (24-27; 60-60) have dropped 11 of 12.
McCullers, limited to three innings and 53 pitches, absorbed an unearned run in the third. Former Hook Ruben Sosa singled to left, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored when catcher Roberto Pena committed a throwing error.
Frias (1-1) collected the win, despite a rocky fourth inning in which Sosa's high fly to left was carried out of the ballpark by a 24-mph wind off Corpus Christi Bay. Chris Cotton threw two scoreless frames for the home club, aided by an eighth-inning double play.
Hernandez's 16th home run provided McCullers and the Hooks with a 1-0 advantage. The high drive to left off Chris Ellis (5-3) was the second yard shot for Corpus Christi's two-hole hitter in as many games.
Kemmer's league-leading 17th homer increased the lead to 4-0 before the first inning expired. His bomb went the same direction, Reed and Jack Mayfield aboard on a single and error, respectively.
McCullers struck out five and permitted four baserunners (three walks) in his first Texas League appearance since a May 12 victory at San Antonio. He last pitched for the Astros at Texas on August 3.
The Hooks regained a four-run lead on Reed's RBI single, which plated Hernandez (lead-off double) during the third.
Frias came on for McCullers and recorded two quick outs before Arkansas generated three-run trouble, Anthony Bemboom and Drew Maggi singles preceding Sosa's first home run.
Conrad Gregor's lead-off double and an Arkansas defensive lapse helped put Corpus Christi up 7-4 through four. With Gregor at third after Hernandez reached on a fielder's choice, catcher Bemboom attempted to throw Hernandez out on a delayed steal, but no one was at the keystone to receive the throw and both runners crossed.
Jio Mier's fifth-inning, run-scoring infield single closed the book on Ellis' night after eight hits, eight runs (three earned), a walk, and five strikeouts.
Reed extended his hitting streak to 11 games; Sosa and Maggi have seven-gamers.