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With efficiency improving, Keuchel finding groove

Astros ace completes 7 innings in under 100 pitches, allows 2 runs on 5 hits
Special to MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Even though Dallas Keuchel didn't get the win, he was pleased about the outcome on Saturday -- his team's victory, as well as his own pitching performance.

In his seven innings, Keuchel allowed only two runs and five hits in Houston's 5-4 win in 11 innings over Cincinnati at Minute Maid Park.

Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Even though Dallas Keuchel didn't get the win, he was pleased about the outcome on Saturday -- his team's victory, as well as his own pitching performance.

In his seven innings, Keuchel allowed only two runs and five hits in Houston's 5-4 win in 11 innings over Cincinnati at Minute Maid Park.

Full Game Coverage

Keuchel was denied the win when the Reds scored on a two-out, two-strike, two-run home run in the top of the ninth by Adam Duvall off Ken Giles. The Astros won on George Springer's walk-off single in the 11th, scoring Jason Castro.

"I'm a competitor, so yeah, I'm going to be frustrated with not getting the win," Keuchel said. "But team wins are ultimately more important."

In his seventh quality start of the season, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner did not walk a batter and struck out six.

"Dallas had a great game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He should feel really good after this outing. He put away hitters. He did a good job of getting the ball on the ground.

"There's a couple of starts in a row, take out one inning [vs. the Rays], that Dallas has been in control of himself and in control of his pitches."

Keuchel gave up a home run on a first-pitch fastball to Zack Cozart leading off the sixth that allowed the Reds to tie the game at 2. But following Cozart's 10th home run of the season to left field, Keuchel retired his final six batters.

Keuchel has struck out at least six batters in each of his four starts in June, with 29 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings in that span. In his first 11 starts this season, the left-hander struck out 58 in 69 1/3 innings.

"My pitch efficiency is increasing, so that's a good sign for myself and the team," Keuchel said.

Keuchel came into Saturday's game with a 3-9 record and a 5.54 ERA.

"For Dallas, he's never lost his confidence and I appreciate the effort that he's put in," Hinch said. "But my instinct today was to take him out an inning too early rather than to leave him out there."

Of Keuchel's 97 pitches on Saturday, 62 were strikes.

"The last month or so I've been feeling real good, had some really tough luck," Keuchel said. "I'm going to keep doing what I can do."

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel