Keuchel off his game as Astros' reign over Texas ends
Lefty allows five runs as seven-game win streak over state rival is over
HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel was at his best for three innings Sunday afternoon, carving through the Rangers and getting a steady diet of ground-ball outs. He appeared to be on his way to another dominant outing.
Things changed quickly for the Keuchel in the fourth, as he gave up a pair of hits to start the inning and two more to start the fifth. All four of those runners scored, and by the time Adrian Beltre walloped a leadoff homer in the sixth, the Rangers were on their way to a 6-2 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"Very frustrating," said the normally happy-go-lucky Keuchel. "I thought I had a good matchup today and it's always nice coming out on top against the Rangers, but I wasn't very good for three innings."
The win snapped the Astros' seven-game winning streak in the Lone Star Series, though the Astros still lead the season series, 8-4. Houston has won three consecutive series over the Rangers for the first time since June 24, 2005-July 2, 2006.
Coming off a three-game sweep in Philadelphia and an early-morning arrival prior to Friday's series opener against Texas, Houston manager Bo Porter was pleased with how the Astros played.
"We had a tough series in Philadelphia and we let a couple of winnable games get away," Porter said. "We arrived back home at 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning, and for the group of men we have in there to respond the way they responded this three-game series, to take two out of three at home, I'm extremely proud of our group."
Rangers starter Nick Martinez (2-8) held the Astros to two runs and five hits in five innings, earning his first win since beating the Tigers on May 24.
"That's what he's up here for, to win ballgames, and if we didn't have a tremendous feeling about the kid, he wouldn't be up here," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "[He was] 1-8, five something ERA, we believe in him. We'll give him all the opportunity we can to get him to improve."
The Astros led, 2-0, after three innings on RBIs by Chris Carter and Jason Castro, though third baseman Matt Dominguez was cut down at the plate to end the second inning when he tried to score from first on a Marwin Gonzalez double.
The umpiring crew chief initiated a review to see if Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos had violated Rule 7.13 and didn't provide Dominguez a path to the plate, but the call stood after a lengthy review.
"They deemed the ball took the catcher into the throwing lane, therefore he was not in violation of the rule," Porter said.
The Rangers tied the game in the fourth on an RBI double by Alex Rios and an RBI single by Adam Rosales, and they took a 4-2 lead in the fifth when Chirinos scored on a wild pitch and Elvis Andrus hit a sacrifice fly to score Daniel Robertson.
"They were just hacking and found some holes and hit some balls hard," Keuchel said. "I'm not going to change anything. We just got our butts whipped today."
Some bad luck cost the Astros a run in the fifth. Gonzalez was at first when Jose Altuve (2-for-3) shot a ground-rule double into the right-field corner, which meant Gonzalez had to stop at third when he probably would have scored on the play.
"I am not a fan of that play at all," Porter said. "When it happens and you're on defense, you probably feel a little bit different, but there's no way you can tell me that Altuve is not going to be standing on third and Marwin's not going to score. It's the rules of the game and you have to live with it. I sure wish that ball would have bounced off the wall instead of bounce and go over the wall."
Beltre led off the sixth inning with a homer off Keuchel, who gave up five runs and six hits in six innings. And Shin-Soo Choo greeted reliever Jose Veras with a homer to left field to push the Rangers to 6-2 in the seventh.
"You can't be on your game all the time, but I thought the first three innings was about as good as I've been this season," Keuchel said. "It's very frustrating. We'll come back and be better."