Keuchel stays perfect as Astros overpower A's
HOUSTON -- The streaking Astros got a two-run homer by Evan Gattis, a two-run single by Chris Carter and another strong pitching performance by Dallas Keuchel to beat the A's, 6-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
Keuchel (6-0) rebounded from a pair of subpar outings, at least by his standards, and didn't allow an earned run over seven innings. Houston has won seven of its past eight games to continue the best start in club history at 27-14.
"We had a pretty complete homestand when it comes to competing, pitching, defense and some timely hitting," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, whose team went 7-2 on the stand. "We saw a little bit of it today, and it encompassed the whole homestand. I'm proud of this group."
A's starter Jesse Hahn (1-4) held the Astros to three runs and five hits, and he walked two batters and struck out six in six innings. Gattis' blast off Hahn in the sixth snapped a 1-1 tie, and Houston broke the game open against Oakland's bullpen with three runs in the eighth on a sac fly by Colby Rasmus and Carter's two-run single.
The A's have dropped 12 of their last 14 games to fall 14 games under .500 and 13 1/2 games back of the first-place Astros.
"It's frustrating," said Hahn. "We have to find something in ourselves and figure it out soon and get going with it. There's not much more you can say about it. … We're just all frustrated right now, and we're tired of losing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gattis gets into one: The burly slugger whose early-season struggles made it hard for him to stay in the lineup on a daily basis crushed a 1-0 pitch from Hahn for a two-run homer to put the Astros ahead and tie him with Jose Altuve for the team lead in RBIs. More >
Missed opportunities: The A's loaded the bases with one out in the fourth against Keuchel but failed to score, when Mark Canha grounded into a forceout at home and Craig Gentry followed with an inning-ending forceout at second. After going quietly in the fifth, Oakland boarded two with one out in the sixth, but the club got just one run out of it on Carter's fielding error. The A's left 10 on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"We did have some decent at-bats off him today," Melvin said of Keuchel. "We got his pitch count high pretty early, we just couldn't get a big hit when we needed to get a big hit."
Keuchel stays unbeaten: Keuchel has put himself in contention to start the All-Star Game for the American League after not allowing a run in seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.67. He's 6-0 in nine starts this year, and he has won eight consecutive decisions dating to last season.
"It's nice any time we win," Keuchel said. "It doesn't matter if we have the best record in baseball or are in first place in the AL West, we'll take each win and continue to try to get better." More >
"Our rotation has done a good job of keeping us in the game. Keuchel obviously leads that. We know he's going to most likely be out there six, seven, eight innings. Our team is confident when Dallas is on the mound." -- Hinch
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The Astros lead the Major Leagues in runs scored (73) and home runs (20) in the seventh inning or later.
Athletics: The A's will continue their road trip in St. Petersburg with a four-game set against the Rays beginning Thursday. Right-hander Jesse Chavez gets the start for Oakland, with first pitch scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT at Tropicana Field. Chavez is 1-3 in his five starting assignments this season, despite pitching to a 3.19 ERA.
Astros: The Astros, who are 12-4 on the road this year, open a four-game series at 12:08 p.m. CT at Detroit on Thursday by sending veteran right-hander Scott Feldman (3-4, 5.06 ERA) to the mound. Feldman is coming off a season-high 10-strikeout performance Saturday against Toronto to snap a two-game losing streak. He has a 12.38 ERA in the first inning of his eight starts this year (2.35 ERA in the second through fourth innings).
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