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Keuchel strong, but late walk proves costly

Astros lefty gives free pass to Rangers' DeShields, who steals second and scores

HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel was left with little room for error on Monday night. When he finally made one, the Rangers took advantage.

Keuchel, who earlier in the day was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for April, carried a shutout into the eighth inning before giving up a one-out walk to Delino DeShields, who stole second and came around to score the game-tying run in the Astros' 2-1 loss to the Rangers at Minute Maid Park.

The loss, which snapped the Astros' 10-game winning streak, was the first for the Astros in a game Keuchel has started since Aug. 21, 2014, a span of 12 starts. Keuchel took a no-decision after Chad Qualls gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth.

"It was a tight pitchers' duel, and I just didn't do enough," Keuchel said. "In a game like that, you've got to do more, and I didn't really come through."

Keuchel gave up five hits and one run and struck out a season-high eight batters in eight innings, and he still saw his ERA rise to 0.80, which is the lowest by an Astros starter through his first six games of the season.

"Dallas pitched well enough to win," manager A.J. Hinch said. "They got one at the end on him, but he pitched very well. He was in total control of the game right up until the end. When your guy's on the mound pitching the way he did, you want to reward him with a win. We just couldn't get anything started. That type of outing's not uncommon for Dallas. But it's unfortunate that we didn't push across a couple of more runs early to give him some breathing room."

Keuchel allowed three leadoff doubles -- in the first, sixth and seventh innings -- but he was able to come back each time and get three outs. He struck out the side on 10 pitches in the second, and then struck out the side again in the third.

"They were just swinging early and I was executing real early, so I just execute the most pitches I can," he said.

Keuchel didn't walk a batter until DeShields reached in the eighth, representing the tying run. When Keuchel threw a pitch in the dirt, the speedster was well off first base and headed for second. Catcher Hank Conger threw to first baseman Chris Carter, but his throw to second was late. Jake Smolinski followed with an RBI single to tie the game.

"I think it was a pretty good display of athleticism on DeShields' part," Hinch said. "I'm not sure there's a lot that Hank could do. You're certainly not going to throw it to second. When you're blocking and retrieving and trying to figure out, 'Am I going to run at him?' you go with your instincts and make a play, and he countered with a pretty good play."

Video: [email protected]: DeShields steals second base in the 8th

Keuchel is getting 3.2 runs of support per nine innings, which is probably why he's sitting on three wins instead of six.

"We can't win all games 7-2 or 7-6 or 10-9," he said. "We got to pull these games out. We'll make the necessary adjustments and try to come back and win tomorrow."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
Read More: Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel