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Devenski finds All-Star form

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- A key development in the Astros' 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park came late in the game when struggling relief pitcher Chris Devenski got back on track by throwing two scoreless innings, retiring all six batters he faced.

It was a huge step in the right direction for Devenski, who had allowed nine runs on 12 hits (five home runs) and seven walks in 12 innings over his previous 15 outings. This year, he's had eight spotless outings of at least two innings -- the most in the Majors since 2016 -- but none since July 2, a span of 18 outings.

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HOUSTON -- A key development in the Astros' 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park came late in the game when struggling relief pitcher Chris Devenski got back on track by throwing two scoreless innings, retiring all six batters he faced.

It was a huge step in the right direction for Devenski, who had allowed nine runs on 12 hits (five home runs) and seven walks in 12 innings over his previous 15 outings. This year, he's had eight spotless outings of at least two innings -- the most in the Majors since 2016 -- but none since July 2, a span of 18 outings.

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"It was better," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He hadn't done multiple innings in a while and he was really efficient in the first inning, and coming back and having a clean second inning will be a boost for his confidence. He's pretty hard on himself, and I think good outings like this will start to kind of reestablish his belief in throwing strikes.

"When he's in the strike zone, you see the swings you get with the changeup, and that's because he's throwing so many strikes and you get some chases. That's a good sign for us."

Devenski threw 21 pitches (15 strikes) in two innings, including strikeouts of Wilmer Difo and Alejandro De Aza.

An All-Star this season, Devenski had a terrific first half. In his first 34 games, he allowed 12 earned runs on 27 hits and 13 walks while striking out 72 batters in 51 2/3 innings. Opponents were hitting .149 against him, and he had a 0.77 WHIP. Tuesday's outing was reminiscent of that dominance.

"We've talked him through a lot of different things and actually tried to limit some of his throwing," Hinch said. "When he makes any mistake, he wants to throw a bullpen every single day. He'll work until there's no more work to have. It's incredible to watch him hold himself to a high standard. If anything, we've been just trying to ease off the gas pedal a little bit, maybe a couple of days of rest in between. You can only keep him down for so long. He wants to pitch."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Chris Devenski