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Keuchel's stellar July ends in loss to Rangers

Astros lefty labors after wins in 4 previous starts this month
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Life against the Rangers outside of Minute Maid Park has been good for the Astros. At home has been a very different story.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel labored through five innings, soaring his pitch count into the 80s after four and reaching 102 after five, and his hot July ended in the Astros' 11-2 loss on Friday night in the series opener.

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HOUSTON -- Life against the Rangers outside of Minute Maid Park has been good for the Astros. At home has been a very different story.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel labored through five innings, soaring his pitch count into the 80s after four and reaching 102 after five, and his hot July ended in the Astros' 11-2 loss on Friday night in the series opener.

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"Dallas had to work a lot tonight," manager AJ Hinch said. "I think four of his five innings were pretty high stress. He had the one clean inning in the very beginning. They made him work."

Video: TEX@HOU: Hinch on trade, struggles in loss to Rangers

Keuchel, who's 8-9 this season with a 3.60 ERA, allowed a run on a squeeze bunt in the second and a monster two-run home run to Robinson Chirinos, who had scored on the bunt, in his final frame. Keuchel hadn't allowed a home run prior to Chirinos' jack on an "ill-advised" pitch location, Hinch said, in 55 consecutive innings dating to June 5.

"The ride I was on was pretty nice," said Keuchel, who went 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his previous four starts against the Rangers, White Sox, Tigers and Angels. "I feel like I continued it tonight, just some unlucky breaks."

The Rangers scored eight runs on Astros relievers Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Cionel Perez, Chris Devenski and Tony Sipp in the final four innings.

One game into their final series of the season, the Astros are 12-5 against their American League West and instate rivals. Houston is 3-4 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park this season. Friday's loss snapped the Astros' eight-game winning streak against the Rangers, which was their longest streak in franchise history.

Video: TEX@HOU: Gattis clubs solo jack for 20th HR of season

Aside from Evan Gattis' 20th homer of the season, Alex Bregman reached base in his 28th consecutive game with a walk and recently acquired catcher Martin Maldonado knocked in his first RBI as an Astro with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly as the Astros were held to just six hits.

"It was not a great night for us, obviously, on both sides," Hinch said.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Chirinos' blast in the fifth inning was the knockout blow. Keuchel tested him with five consecutive four-seam fastballs and the fifth landed in the left-field bleachers. The homer gave Texas a 3-0 lead.

Video: TEX@HOU: Chirinos demolishes a 2-run homer to left

"He gets to give up the homer, which changed the entire outing for him," Hinch said. "Even if he leaves after five innings giving up one run, I think he feels a little bit better about it. It's tough to give up the two-run homer and have them separate on a night where we weren't doing anything behind him."

ASTROS LAND PRESSLY
The Astros made an in-game trade as they acquired right-handed reliever Ryan Pressly from the Twins in exchange for prospects RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Perez was optioned to Triple-A Fresno to make room on the 25-man roster for Pressly, who's expected to arrive at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. More >

SOUND SMART
The Astros announced a paid attendance of 42,592, their ninth sellout of the season. This season marks the most sellouts at Minute Maid Park in a season since the 15 in 2008.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Justin Verlander (10-5, 2.19 ERA) will start for the Astros at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Verlander will go for win No. 199 on a week of rest. Righty Ariel Jurado (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will be called up from Double-A Frisco to make his second Major League start for Texas.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel