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Astros-Rangers Preview

Dallas Keuchel hasn't been battered around in quite a while, though the in-state rival Texas Rangers have one of the few lineups that has given the left-hander some trouble.

Coming off one of the best opening-day starts in franchise history, Keuchel will try to help the visiting Houston Astros bounce back to take Sunday's decisive series finale from the banged-up Rangers.

Keuchel (1-0, 0.00 ERA) picked up where he left off after last season's strong finish, allowing three hits over seven innings to outpitch reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in Monday's 2-0 home win over Cleveland.

He joined Roy Oswalt as the only pitchers in Astros history to throw at least seven scoreless innings on opening day.

"That guy is good, man," Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes told MLB's official website. "I've faced him since college, and in the minor leagues. That guy can keep you off-balance. He moves the ball in and out. He's a very good pitcher."

Keuchel has allowed two unearned runs or fewer in each of his last six starts and surrendered three runs or less in 11 of his last 12. His 2.18 ERA since July 25 ranks in the top 10 among AL starters who have made at least 10 starts over that span.

The Rangers, however, are the only team to score more than three runs off him in those 12 starts with a 6-2 win in Houston on Aug. 10. Keuchel had been 2-3 with a 5.00 ERA in five meetings with Texas (3-3), before giving up two runs over seven innings in a 3-2 home win Aug. 31 in which he did not factor in the decision.

He'll face a short-handed lineup in this meeting with Shin-Soo Choo's status uncertain after missing Saturday's game due to back spasms and fellow starting outfielder Ryan Rua out with a right ankle sprain.

Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Peguero had two hits apiece Saturday as Texas showed some life while taking advantage of three Houston errors in a 6-2 victory. The Rangers had been batting .185 in their previous five games.

''I really thought we did a number of things tonight that allowed us to win the ballgame,'' said manager Jeff Banister, a winner at home for the first time. ''That's what we need to do all year long.''

Texas might not need much production if Colby Lewis (1-0, 1.50) can pitch nearly as well as he did in his season debut. The right-hander held Oakland to one run and three hits over six innings in a 3-1 road win April 7.

"He was amazing," catcher Carlos Corporan said. "He was spotting every pitch, using his slider early and then changing to his curve later. He was a different pitcher every inning. All of his pitches were working."

Lewis now hopes to put his terrible 2014 performance at home behind him after he went 3-9 with a 5.90 ERA for the second highest home mark in team history. He's had success versus Houston (2-3), going 5-1 with a 1.68 ERA in seven starts.

Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez combined for eight of the team's 11 hits Saturday, but the Astros went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. George Springer and Chris Carter are 4 for 36 overall this season.

Altuve, the 2014 NL batting champion, is batting .367 in his last 19 games against the Rangers.

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