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Keuchel uncharacteristically bit by homers

Houston starter also walked in two runs on off night

SEATTLE -- There are two things Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel typically doesn't do: walk a lot of batters and give up many home runs. Both of those bit him in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field when Keuchel tied a career high by allowing three homers and walked a season-high four batters, all in the second inning.

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Keuchel (8-3) allowed a season-high five runs to go along with five hits in six innings to fall to 3-4 with a 2.88 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against the Mariners. Keuchel, struggling to grip the ball, walked two batters with the bases loaded in the second to allow Seattle to tie the game, and then gave up solo homers to Nelson Cruz in the third, Seth Smith in the fifth and Mark Trumbo in the sixth.

"We don't see that very often out of him," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I know he didn't feel the ball out of his hand. I know it was a little slippery. When [pitching coach Brent Strom] went out to talk to him, he had a little bit of trouble with gripping the ball. It was pretty dry, and you just don't see him walk those guys very often.

"He had a lot of movement, just couldn't command the strike zone and they were patient enough through that inning. The one-run innings at a time, they kept on tacking on runs to create a little bit of a gap there. I'm proud of our guys for fighting back, but need to do better tomorrow and try to salvage a win."

Keuchel was frustrated he didn't do a better job against a Seattle lineup that included five lefties, including Smith, who hit a rare left-handed homer off him.

"There's a few lefties in there for me who I felt comfortable with, just didn't get the job done," he said. "After getting spotted two runs early, off a good pitcher, I got to take advantage of that and I didn't, so hats off to them for being patient and then putting some good wood on three pitches."

Cruz's homer came on what Keuchel called an "awful pitch," but he said Smith's blast was surprising.

"I haven't really given up too many home runs to lefties in my career, but I mean it was a 1-0 pitch, and he was sitting dead red and I threw it right in the middle of the plate," he said. "So, tip my cap to him, and Trumbo's was just 3-2, pitch out in front, strong man and that's what he does as well. But I can't walk four guys in the second inning. I got to figure something out, even if I can't get a grip on the ball. That's very frustrating."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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