ARLINGTON -- More than anything, Astros starter Dallas Keuchel lamented the unusually high number of hits he gave up to left-handed hitters Friday night, including a home run by Nomar Mazara of the Rangers in the second inning.Keuchel, who dominated Texas last year, was good but not quite good enough,
ARLINGTON -- More than anything, Astros starter Dallas Keuchel lamented the unusually high number of hits he gave up to left-handed hitters Friday night, including a home run by Nomar Mazara of the Rangers in the second inning.
Keuchel, who dominated Texas last year, was good but not quite good enough, allowing seven hits and three runs in six innings while taking the loss in the Rangers' 5-1 win over the Astros in the second game of their season-opening series at Globe Life Park.
"I usually corral those lefties," Keuchel said. "I made some adjustments and got through six, but it was tough to see, just based on how I felt going in and the matchup for me. We'll look to make some adjustments for Baltimore [next week] and go at it again."
Mazara's homer gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, and back-to-back sacrifice flies by Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor after Texas loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth put Houston behind, 3-0. That's all the Rangers needed against an Astros lineup that managed just five hits and stranded eight runners.
"They won a lot of the big at-bats tonight," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We didn't put a lot of pressure on [Rangers starter Doug Fister] early, and when we did get some baserunners, we had a hard time completing the inning. And then obviously the big sixth inning. Certainly a big part of the game."
Rangers relievers Chris Martin and Alex Claudio were able to get out of a crucial bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Martin struck out Evan Gattis swinging, and the lefty Claudio struck out pinch-hitter J.D. Davis swinging to end the threat. Houston managed one hit the rest of the game.
"We swung out of the strike zone a little bit more than we normally do, really throughout the game," Hinch said. "Fister hung around the outside part of the strike zone like he normally does and works really fast and got us in swing mode and broke a few bats. In the sixth inning, I thought both Martin and Claudio hung around the strike zone enough to make us want to swing, but not necessarily pitches we want to swing at."
Fister went five innings to get the win against his former team, allowing one run with four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. The Rangers were also able to turn a couple of key double plays behind him to stave off Astros rallies.
The Astros picked up a run in the fifth on a leadoff double by Gattis and another with one-out by Max Stassi. But the Rangers picked up two in the seventh against reliever Joe Smith. Joey Gallo's double off the center-field wall scored Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus followed with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
"I thought Dallas competed pretty well," Hinch said. "He didn't quite finish off hitters early in the game like he normally does, but for a lack of contact they made against him, as far as strength, I thought he did a pretty good job getting through six."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mazara takes lefty deep: Mazara gave the Rangers their first lead of the season with a home run off Keuchel in the second. Mazara had just one home run in 113 at-bats against left-handers last season before going deep the first time he faced one this year. Keuchel allowed just three home runs to left-handers last season. More >
"I've had some good success against those guys, the lefties especially, with the two-seam barreling inside," Keuchel said. "That one stayed true and didn't really have that late bite that it usually does. He's a good hitter for a reason."
Back-to-back strikeouts: The Astros, trailing 3-1, had the bases loaded with one out against Martin in the sixth. But Martin struck out Gattis, and Claudio came in to strike out Davis to end the inning. The Astros were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
MITEL REPLAYS OF THE DAY
The Rangers led 3-1 when Jose Altuve led off the sixth smacking a line drive to right field. Mazara appeared to have trouble seeing the ball in the lights, backed up and ended up trapping the ball on the catch. The Rangers challenged and the call stood on review.
The second review of the inning was more complicated. With one out, Alex Bregman hit a ground ball up the middle that Andrus fielded behind the bag. He flipped to Odor trying to get the force but pulled him off the bag. Odor then tried to get the runner at first with an off-balance, corkscrew throw and ended up putting it in the Rangers' dugout.
The umpires initially allowed Altuve to score and placed Bregman at third. But after a crew-chief review, Altuve was held at third and Bregman sent back to second. That proved huge because both runners ended up getting stranded.
"They said Altuve was going back to third," Hinch said. "They said he hadn't occupied second base yet by the time the ball had left Odor's hand."
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers will make his first start of the season Saturday in the third game of this four-game series. McCullers went 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 starts last year, and he is 0-3 with a 6.26 ERA in five starts against Texas.
Rangers: Left-hander Matt Moore pitches against the Astros at 3:05 p.m. CT Saturday. Moore is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three career starts against the Astros and is making his first start for Texas.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.