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Keuchel stays hot as Astros shut out Tigers

Bregman homers as southpaw wins fourth straight decision
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel didn't make the American League All-Star team, but hitting the break with a full head of steam isn't a bad consolation prize.

Keuchel continued his resurgence by throwing six frames, while Alex Bregman smacked a two-run homer in the first inning to send the Astros to a 3-0 win over the Tigers on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel didn't make the American League All-Star team, but hitting the break with a full head of steam isn't a bad consolation prize.

Keuchel continued his resurgence by throwing six frames, while Alex Bregman smacked a two-run homer in the first inning to send the Astros to a 3-0 win over the Tigers on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

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"It's really nice," Keuchel said. "August and September is the grind, because you can see the finish line, but it's nice to finish off technically the first half on a high note, for sure."

Keuchel (7-8) won his fourth consecutive decision and third consecutive start by holding the Tigers to six singles while throwing 98 pitches. The lefty improved to 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six starts since June 16. He's allowed no earned runs in six innings in three of his last six starts.

"I think he's Dallas Keuchel," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "I think he's really good. I think he's found his timing, his rhythm, his pitches. His changeup usage has been excellent. He controls contact. … Let's not forget he's Dallas Keuchel and he's really good."

Video: DET@HOU: Hinch on Keuchel's outing, Bregman's night

Bregman socked his 12th homer in his past 27 games when he took former teammate Mike Fiers deep in the first inning for his 20th homer of the season after George Springer led off the game with an infield hit. Fiers, who led the Astros in innings pitched last year, was making his first start against his former team.

"Springer did a great job getting on base, and when you get a leadoff guy on like that, it puts the pressure on the pitcher," Bregman said. "I was fortunate enough to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."

• Bregman sets career high with 20th homer

Video: DET@HOU: Bregman crushes his 20th homer of the season

The Astros strung three consecutive singles to start the third, with Yuli Gurriel driving in Bregman for a 3-0 lead. Fiers (6-6) sent down 11 of the next 13 batters he faced to deliver a quality start for the Tigers.

"You get the lead and you can throw the first pitch, that's a good way to get to somebody who is pitching well is be first," Hinch said. "We did that, obviously. George leads the game off with a hit, Bregman hits a homer and before you know it, it's 2-0. We hit the ball pretty well. We also found some holes and continue to put some pressure on him to make pitches."

Video: DET@HOU: Astros turn two to end the top of the 5th

Tony Sipp, Brad Peacock and Hector Rondon each threw a scoreless inning to finish off the Astros' ninth shutout, which ties for the AL lead and matches their regular-season total from last season.

"I've just been fortunate to make quality pitches early," Keuchel said. "That's been a focus of mine, trying to attack the guys instead of trying to be perfect every single pitch. I"ve been riding that. I'd like to have still get some more fastballs for strikes early in the count … but with the changeup, it's provided me another quality pitch to offset the guys in what they want to do the other way."

Video: DET@HOU: Keuchel fans Hicks, strands 2 runners

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Keuchel's escape: The Tigers loaded the bases in the sixth against Keuchel on a pair of singles and a walk. The southpaw got Mikie Mahtook to pop out to first base before getting Victor Martinez to hit into a sharp fielder's choice up the middle of the field to end his outing and keep the Tigers scoreless.

"With Victor, I got ahead 0-2, but three uncompetitive pitches there really forced my hand, 3-2, and I was lucky enough to make a good pitch 3-2 with the fastball down and in," Keuchel said. "He's a great hitter and I put myself in a bad situation, but luckily I got out of it."

Video: DET@HOU: Altuve retires McCann on fielder's choice

SOUND SMART
Jose Altuve (2-for-4) has hits in 21 consecutive starts at Minute Maid Park, which is the longest streak of his career and the longest by an Astros player at the ballpark.

HE SAID IT
"It's fun to play defense behind him and how he's getting swings and misses and getting ground balls like he does." -- Bregman on Keuchel

Video: DET@HOU: Keuchel, Bregman on Astros 3-0 win vs Tigers

UP NEXT
Right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.57 ERA) has one more chance to extend his club record of 169 strikeouts prior to the All-Star break when he starts Saturday's 3:10 p.m CT game against the Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Cole comes off the bereavement list to replace outfielder Jake Marisnick, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno after Friday's game. Former Astro Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.74 ERA) will start for Detroit.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel