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Keuchel throws 4-hitter as Astros beat Mariners

Photo: Elaine Thompson

Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) shakes hands with catcher Carlos Corporan after throwing a complete game against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Sunday, May 25, 2014, in Seattle. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) Dallas Keuchel tried to deflect the praise of his manager and teammates after his second complete game in his last three starts.

But there is no denying the stellar performances Keuchel has delivered over the last month.

The Houston left-hander pitched a four-hitter in leading the Astros to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

Keuchel (6-2) struck out six, walked none and allowed just an unearned run that scored on a throwing error in the second inning. He went 8 2-3 innings in a victory over the Angels in his last start, the only thing keeping him from three straight complete games.

''He is definitely in a groove right now. It's a joy to watch,'' manager Bo Porter said.

Keuchel has been nearly unhittable in his last four starts. He has earned four victories, thrown two complete games, walked just one and struck out 28. He's allowed just four earned runs with a 1.08 ERA over that span.

''He's been lights out,'' first baseman Marc Krauss said. ''He's been everything you can ask for and more lately.''

Keuchel said he's not trying to nibble at the strike zone anymore; an approach that cost him at times as a rookie last season. Instead, he's trying to be more aggressive with his pitches.

''I'm just trying to attack the zone,'' Keuchel said. ''I'm not trying to be too fine anymore. That's what I did my rookie year and obviously I had more walks than strikeouts.''

''I'm just trying to go out there and help the team to the best of my ability.''

Krauss and George Springer hit two-run homers off Hisashi Iwakuma (3-1), who allowed a season-high nine hits.

Seattle took the early lead with a two-out rally in the second inning. Mike Zunino and Michael Saunders each singled to put runners on first and second. Cole Gillespie followed with a dribbler off the end of the bat up the third-base line. Keuchel fielded the ball and threw wide of first base down the right-field line as Zunino scored.

Keuchel retired the next 14 batters and faced the minimum 22 batters after Gillespie's single in the second.

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wasn't as impressed with Keuchel's outing. He called Keuchel ''average'' and put the onus on his offense for not getting the job done.

''I saw average stuff,'' McClendon said. ''We didn't swing the bats very good. At some point, you've got to stop giving credit to average pitchers. That becomes a broken record. At some point, we've got to start swinging the bats.''

Meanwhile, the Astros finally broke through in the sixth inning. Jose Altuve singled and Springer followed with a two-run blast to left field for his fourth homer in his last three games. It was also Springer's seventh home run of the month.

Krauss added his homer in the seventh to extend the lead to 4-1, matching the most runs Iwakuma allowed this season.

NOTES: Houston optioned OF L.J. Hoes to Triple-A Oklahoma City following the game and recalled OF Robbie Grossman. Grossman is expected to return to the lineup as the team's every day left fielder. ... Houston C Carlos Corporan was the only Astros batter that failed to get a hit. ... Mariners OF James Jones had his streak of hits in his first 15 starts and last 14 straight games ended with a 0-for-4 performance. ... Seattle 2B Robinson Cano's streak of reaching base in a career-high 31 straight games also ended with a 0-for-4 day. ... McClendon didn't rule out the possibility of LHP James Paxton rejoining the starting rotation following a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday night. Paxton allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts in a 62-pitch outing. Paxton has been on the disabled list since April 9 with a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle.

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