MIAMI -- The weak-contact grounders didn't go Dallas Keuchel's way in the first inning, as the left-hander surrendered a couple of runs. The Astros ace's fortunes, however, turned quickly. Jake Marisnick belted a pair of two-run home runs and Brian McCann also drove in four runs, as Houston blew past the Marlins, 12-2, on Tuesday at Marlins Park.
After showing some vulnerability, and a lot of bad luck, Keuchel quickly became Keuchel again, yielding just the two runs while striking out five and recording 11 ground-ball outs, as the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner improved to 7-0 with a 1.84 ERA.
The Astros broke things open in a hurry off Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, who yielded eight runs in three innings. For Koehler, the eight earned runs allowed match his second most in a start. He also surrendered that many on May 11, 2016, at Milwaukee. His personal high is nine, which occurred on June 15, 2013, in 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals.
Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after the tough loss.
"Obviously, command has been the biggest issue," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "They seem to be trying to jump the first fastball they get. After that, it's kind of the breaking ball in general."
Marisnick, who was dealt from the Marlins to the Astros in 2014, enjoyed his first career multi-homer game, blasting two-run shots off Koehler in the third inning and Nick Wittgren in the fifth. Both drives clanged off the home run sculpture in center field.
With an eight-run lead, the Astros made it an early night for Keuchel, who has now given up two or fewer runs in eight of his nine starts.
"I've been looking for a time to get him out of there," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Keuchel's early departure. "We've had him out there so deep into games. We had a comfortable lead, I had a couple of guys that were really ready to pitch."
"I don't like to pitch five innings but when it's discussed that if there's a big lead and I have a chance to get a win, then I'll take that," Keuchel said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rake, Marisnick: Marisnick was once a promising Marlins prospect, but he has become an impactful backup outfielder in Houston. The 26-year-old has mostly made his mark as a defensive replacement. On Tuesday, he displayed major power, adding a double to his two-homer night. Both shots helped put the game well out of reach. Per Statcast™, the first homer was projected to travel 450 feet with a 109-mph exit speed. His second was projected at 415 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. Both of his homers clanked off the home run sculpture in left-center.
"It felt good. I was trying to slow things down," Marisnick said of his big night. "I hadn't been feeling great, so to go out there and slow things down, get a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it, it felt good." More >
Walks bite Koehler: After falling behind by three runs in the top of the first inning, the Marlins chipped back with two runs in the bottom of the frame, making things interesting. And Koehler was set up for a shutdown inning after retiring the first two in the second, but he issued three straight walks to load the bases. McCann delivered a big blow for the Astros, lacing a three-run double into the gap in right-center. Giancarlo Stanton made a diving attempt, but couldn't turn in a spectacular play. The walks set up a three-run inning, padding Houston's lead to four.
"You give up three runs to start, and put your team in a hole, it's hard to battle back," Koehler said.
"Trying to make this stint as short as possible. I've thrown a lot of innings in the big leagues. I've had success, and I know what needs to be done. But this wasn't getting it done. I've got to find ways to getting back to being myself." -- Koehler, on being optioned to Triple-A
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With the win, the Astros improved to 28-12, winning 70 percent of their first 40 games. Three of the last four teams to do so have gone on to win the World Series.
Astros:Lance McCullers gets the start for the Astros in an 11:10 a.m. CT series finale on Wednesday at Marlins Park. McCullers (3-1, 2.98 ERA) has turned quality starts in his last three outings and in six of his eight starts this season.
Marlins:Jose Urena closes out the nine-game homestand on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA. This will be his third start after he opened the season in a long-relief role.
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