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McHugh struggles with mechanics in loss

BOSTON -- Collin McHugh's fastball command was sporadic, especially early. That forced the Astros right-hander to rely more on his cutter and his curveball, and it turned out to be bad news against an opportunistic Red Sox lineup.

McHugh's three-game winning streak came to an end Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park when he was hit for four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 6-1 loss that snapped the Astros' five-game winning streak.

"Especially the top of their lineup, they put together some good at-bats against me early on," McHugh said. "They got some guys over, got some guys in on some big hits."

The Red Sox didn't exactly pound the ball against McHugh. They scored once in four different innings before chasing him in the sixth. Still, McHugh has thrown at least five innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, posting a 2.96 ERA in that span.

One of his three walks came in the first when he issued a free pass to leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who would score on a single by Xander Bogaerts.

"The first walk of the game set the tone for him, and his fastball eluded him a little bit today," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "His command and execution wasn't up to his norm. He didn't get hit around that much. They nickel-and-dimed him a little bit. We helped him with a couple of errors, but more than anything, the consistency of his fastball was not his best today."

After the game, McHugh spent some time with pitching coach Brent Strom going over mechanics. Despite his recent success, McHugh remains a work in progress.

"I think there's always a little bit of a mechanical element when you're struggling with command," McHugh said. "You try not to think about it too much, but you try and hit one of your keys to kind of bring you back to where you are. I was telling him, 'I felt like today I was reaching back to find those keys and couldn't really land on one that worked for me early on.'"

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Houston Astros, Collin McHugh