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Keuchel tosses hitless ball in loss to Phillies

Astros left-hander allows just one walk, strikes out two in impressive start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Three-run homers by third baseman Cody Asche and catcher Carlos Ruiz lifted the Phillies to an 11-3 Grapefruit League win over an Astros split squad Saturday at Bright House Field.

John Mayberry Jr. also drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.

The Phillies are 2-8-1. The Astros are 3-6.

The shot by Ruiz capped off a four-run rally in the sixth, and broke open what had been a tight game. With the score tied at 3 and one out, designated hitter Ryan Howard doubled and right fielder Marlon Byrd and left fielder Darin Ruf singled against Astros reliever Collin McHugh to put the Phillies ahead. Ruiz followed with his second home run of the spring, a long shot to left.

Asche's three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead after Astros starter Dallas Keuchel and McHugh combined to keep the Phils hitless until Ruiz singled to left with one out in the inning.

Center fielder Freddy Galvis followed with a walk. Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez made a nice play on a hard smash by Phillies first baseman Maikel Franco to get a force at second, but Astros first baseman Jonathan Singleton bobbled the relay and Franco was safe. Asche then blasted an 0-1 pitch to right for his first home run of the spring.

The Astros came right back to tie the game against left-hander Jesse Biddle, rated the Phillies' No. 1 pitching prospect by With one out, pinch-hitter Rene Garcia walked and went to third on a double by Gonzalez. Garcia scored on a wild pitch. Gonzalez moved up to third and then came home on a base hit by second baseman Gregorio Petit.

The Astros scored first in the third, starting a rally against Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez with two outs and nobody on base.

Center fielder Delino DeShields walked and scored all the way from first when left fielder Robbie Grossman singled to center. Grossman went to second on the throw to the plate. Hernandez walked Singleton and third baseman Matt Dominguez before striking out Brett Wallace to end the inning.

Hernandez, who currently projects as the Phillies' No. 4 starter, also pitched out of trouble in the second. A walk and a single put Astros runners on first and second with one out, but Hernandez got catcher Carlos Corporan to ground into a double play.

Hernandez ended up throwing 3 1/3 innings. His stuff was good enough to strike out four. His command was erratic enough to also walk four.

"I had a little bit of trouble in the third inning," he said. "I was too wild. I can't try to overthrow, but sometimes when I'm pitching in a game, I do that a little bit and the ball stays up. That's what happened with a couple of those walks.

"But I feel very, very, very close to where I need to be."

The Astros loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on three straight walks by right-hander Kevin Munson, but Munson got out of trouble when Franco was able to snag a foul popup.

Up next: Left-hander Rudy Owens, who was roughed up in his first career Major League Spring Training start earlier this week, will get the ball for the Astros when they face the Blue Jays on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium on MLB.TV. Anthony Bass, Raul Valdes, Matt Albers and Kevin Chapman are also scheduled to throw.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for
Read More: Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel