Gem dealer: Keuchel shines for Astros

August 6th, 2016

HOUSTON -- A much-needed offensive outburst and a dominant performance by helped get the Astros back on track Friday night.

Keuchel survived a tenuous first inning en route to pitching a three-hit shutout -- his first in more than a year -- as the Astros scored four times in the third inning against to beat the Rangers, 5-0, in the series opener at Minute Maid Park.

"It's nice to have those," said Keuchel, who spun his 10th complete game and fourth shutout. "I feel like the young guys have been kind of outshining everybody else and I just kind of want to get in the mix. So that was real nice to see."

The Astros cut the Rangers' lead in the American League West to 5 1/2 games.

"We know they are a really good team," Rangers third baseman said. "We came here to win the series. They did a great job tonight and Keuchel shut us down. We'll see what happens tomorrow and the next day."

One bad inning once again dooms Perez

The Astros, who hadn't scored more than two runs in a game in a week, got an RBI double by , a two-run single by and an RBI single by in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Altuve added an RBI double in the seventh against Perez, who lasted seven innings.

"We hadn't done that in a while, and I think it was good for our guys to feel the energy of handing the next at-bat to the next guy in a better situation than what he inherited," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We needed a breakthrough inning, and that was it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Complete domination: After giving up six runs in the first inning Sunday in Detroit, Keuchel flirted with disaster in the first on Friday before rolling to his first complete game and shutout since June 25, 2015, against the Yankees. He was 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in his three previous starts against the Rangers this year. Overall, he's 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in his last nine starts, eight of which have been quality.

"I hadn't really felt well and this is the first start I knew going in that it was going to be good just because of the way my body felt, the way it was recovering in between workouts," Keuchel said. "You kind of get that feeling that kind of the body's turning around right in the nick of time for August and September. That's going to be nice to see. It's been a challenge so far, and I was just looking to get on board with some of the younger guys." More >

Odor can't come through: The Rangers had runners on second and third with two out in the first, but couldn't deliver the hit that would have given them the lead. Instead, on a 3-2 pitch, he grounded out to first baseman . Odor is hitting .194 with runners in scoring position and two outs this season.

"I hit it a little bit in front," Odor said. "It was a good pitch, a little bit down."

Third-inning tear: Offense has been hard to come by lately for the Astros, who only scored seven runs in the six games prior to Friday's, but something finally went right for them on that side of the ball in the bottom of the third. Houston notched five hits and a key one-out walk from rookie to storm out to a 4-0 lead after three. The Astros own a 26-2 record when scoring four runs or more at home this season.

"It was great," Correa said. "That's the way we play. [When] we're at our best, we're able to turn a game around in just one inning. We were able to do that tonight, it was great and we got the win." More >

Last hit was early:'s two-out double in the first was the last hit for the Rangers until Beltre's two-out double in the ninth. Their only baserunners in between were , who walked in the fifth, and Odor. He reached on a strikeout/wild pitch.

"We couldn't get anything positive going in any of those innings," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.

QUOTABLE

"I think so. Especially beating this team. This is a really good team that made a lot of moves at the Deadline. Being able to beat them the way we did today obviously gives you a lot of confidence." -- Correa, when asked if a game like this restores confidence after a slump

REPLAY REVIEW

Hinch won a challenge in the seventh inning, resulting in reaching base on a throwing error. Marisnick was originally called out on a swipe tag at first, but replays showed 's tag missed him.

WHAT'S NEXT

Rangers: Right-hander pitches for the Rangers against his former team at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Harrell pitched for the Astros from 2011-14 and will be making his first career start against them. It will be his second start for the Rangers.

Astros: Right-hander makes his first start since returning from paternity leave Saturday night. Fister (10-7, 3.56 ERA) leads the club in wins, and the Astros have won three of his last four starts.

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