Even when Dallas Keuchel is not at his best, the Houston Astros keep finding ways to win for their ace.
As the Astros try to continue that trend, the left-hander looks to extend his undefeated run to 14 games in Wednesday's decisive finale against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
Keuchel (5-0, 1.87 ERA) allowed four runs over 45 innings in his first six starts, then four and eight hits in each of his last two while lasting 12 2-3 innings. He managed to get the win in both, however. Houston (26-14) is 12-1 while he's gone 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA since losing at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 21.
''His first six starts, he dominated," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''It's hard to keep that pace up. I think it speaks more about the domination that he had at the beginning of the season and less about the struggles or anything like that.''
The first Houston starter to go 5-0 since Roger Clemens won his first nine decisions in 2004, Keuchel remains confident but slightly frustrated after those last two performances.
''I can't keep having self-inflicted wounds," he said. ''I can't keep putting myself in those situations and keep expecting to get out of them. That's not the way this game is meant to go. I think the law of averages is catching up to me, and I've got to do a better job of keeping my foot on the gas.''
Keuchel hasn't let up much while the Astros have won his last five versus Oakland (14-27), and he is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in the last four. He gave up two hits over nine scoreless innings of a 5-4, 11-inning victory over the A's on April 24.
After Houston's five-game winning streak ended with Monday's 2-1 loss, it bounced back for a 6-4 victory one night later. Colby Rasmus, Chris Carter and Jason Castro each homered for the Astros, who have the AL's best record and are 17-0 when hitting at least two of their major league-leading 60 home runs.
''I hope we do it for four more months,'' Hinch said.
Brett Lawrie had three hits for Oakland, which has dropped 11 of 13.
The A's are 1-6 in games started by Jesse Hahn (1-3, 4.42), who has an 8.71 ERA while losing his last two road outings. His most recent start came at home Friday when he gave up four runs - two earned - over 6 1-3 innings of a 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
This will the right-hander's his first appearance against the Astros.
Rasmus is 6 for 15 with three RBIs in his last four games versus Oakland.
The A's could be without center fielder Coco Crisp, who left Tuesday's game after the top of the fourth with neck tightness. Crisp, who dealt with a neck problem last May, is 2 for 45 since debuting May 6 after recovering from elbow surgery.
"Similar to last year," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said, "but to what degree, we're not sure."
Rookie Billy Burns, who replaced Crisp on Tuesday, had two hits and is 10 for 23 in his last six contests.
Lawrie is 0 for 12 versus Keuchel.