ARLINGTON -- Dallas Keuchel and the Astros continue to be almost unstoppable, opening up a three-game series against the Rangers with a 7-1 victory at Globe Life Park on Friday night. The Astros (39-16) are now 23 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2001
ARLINGTON -- Dallas Keuchel and the Astros continue to be almost unstoppable, opening up a three-game series against the Rangers with a 7-1 victory at Globe Life Park on Friday night. The Astros (39-16) are now 23 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2001 season.
Keuchel won his fourth straight start and ran his overall record to 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA by holding the Rangers scoreless over six innings, allowing three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The nine-game winning streak is the longest by an Astros pitcher since Roger Clemens won nine straight in 2004, and Keuchel has won 11 straight decisions going back to last year.
Carlos Correa delivered the big hit with a three-run home run off Rangers starter Yu Darvish in the fifth. It's the second straight start that Darvish has been beaten by a three-run homer with two out in the fifth, and he is now 5-4 with a 3.13 ERA after 12 starts.
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"He got the better of Correa the first couple of times in two different ways: He had the slider the first time, the fastball the second time, so Correa had seen both putaway pitches," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "Got a good pitch to hit, pulled it just over the fence, but it really did ignite our dugout and felt like we broke through. With Keuchel on the mound and a fresh bullpen, we felt pretty good with a three-run lead."
George Springer broke the game open with a three-run homer in the eighth, sending the Astros to their eighth straight victory, the longest active winning streak in the Majors. Springer's home run was hauled in on the berm beyond center field by a fan wearing Astros gear.
The Rangers, who didn't score until Adrian Beltre's ninth-inning home run, have lost nine of their last 12 since winning 10 in a row.
"Teams go through highs and lows," Beltre said. "We were starting to get hot, now we have to find a way to get out of this one. The Astros have the best record in the league. We knew we would have our hands full but we felt we could win this series. We have to find a way to be more consistent."
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Correa strikes back: Darvish struck out Correa in his first two at-bats. The second time came in the third inning on three straight fastballs. Correa came up with two on and two out in the fifth and Darvish went off-speed. Correa ended up hitting an 84.3-mph slider over the left-field wall for a three-run home run. The shot was set up by a two-out single from Josh Reddick and a double by Jose Altuve.
"Any time you have a quality pitcher on the other side, you'll take all the runs you can get," Keuchel said. "Correa showed why he's one of the best young players in the game and the AL Player of the Month. He's riding a hot bat, and it's just nice to have him going again with Altuve in front of him. Just, the lineup is so deep, it's really tough to get outs consecutively, and we showed that tonight."
Keuchel holds off threat: Keuchel retired 17 of the first 19 batters faced before running into trouble with two outs in the sixth inning. Elvis Andrus and Jonathan Lucroy reached on singles and Beltre drew a walk. That brought up Rougned Odor, who fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches before hitting an inning-ending grounder to first.
"He was keeping the ball down and in, down and out, hitting the corners. When he's getting the borderline calls, you know everything is going his way." -- Beltre, on Keuchel
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Beltre's home run came off a 98.8-mph fastball from reliever Ken Giles. According to Statcast™, that is the fifth fastest pitch hit for a home run in the Majors this season.
Beltre also picked up the Rangers' first hit of the game with two out in the fourth inning when he hit a fly ball deep down the right-field line. Reddick, the Astros' right fielder, got there but overran the ball, and it fell just inside the line for what was scored as a double. The two extra-base hits give Beltre 1,076 for his career, passing Reggie Jackson for 24th all-time.
With one out in the second, it appeared Odor had reached base safely. Alex Bregman's throw from third was wide and made Yuli Gurriel come off the bag. Gurriel tried to tag Odor, but Odor was called safe. The Astros challenged the call, and it was overturned following a review.
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers (6-1, 2.48) takes the mound Saturday in the middle game of the Astros' series with Texas. McCullers was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for May after leading the AL in ERA (0.99), tying for the second-most wins with four, and tying for the third-best BAA (.164) in the month.
Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner pitches against the Astros at 6:15 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. Cashner is 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA in three starts and eight career relief appearances against the Astros.
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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.