Keuchel finishes strong to end skid; Astros beat Angels 4-2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel was all out of sorts. He had lost his last five decisions, his ERA was a dismal 5.92 and his record 2-6.
Saturday night, however, all was again well in his personal pitching universe, the left-hander overcoming some first-inning trouble to return to his All-Star form.
Keuchel retired his final 18 batters, and aided by Jason Castro's go-ahead homer, led the Houston Astros to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to earn his first victory since April 15.
''I knew it was going to turn around because I'm a pretty big competitor and I don't like to lose,'' Keuchel said. ''Losing five in row didn't sit too well and I knew I was going to turn it around if I just stuck with it.''
Keuchel went seven innings, striking out five without allowing a walk. After Johnny Giavotella led off the second with a single, he did not allow another Angel to reach base.
''A lot of stuff he's done early in the season has been noteworthy because we're not used to seeing him struggle with his command and control,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''But he's still Dallas Keuchel, he's still a very difficult matchup for an opponent and that doesn't change just because he had a couple of bad starts.''
Things started poorly for Keuchel in the first inning when he allowed back-to-back solo home runs to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
''We didn't get good looks on him after the first inning,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Keuchel suddenly resembled the pitcher who went 20-8 with a 2.46 ERA last season, and not the one who had surrendered seven earned runs to the Rangers in his last start.
''It's the first nice start in a while where I can smile and the team won,'' he said.
Pat Neshek, Tony Sipp and Luke Gregerson retired the Angels in order over the final two innings, with Gregerson earning his 11th save.
Jered Weaver (4-4) took the loss. He used his offspeed pitches to limit the Astros to a pair of runs until Castro hit his homer in the sixth. It was his fourth home run of the season.
Trout is now one of eight players in baseball history to get 150 home runs and score 500 runs in their age 24-season or younger. The others: Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Robinson and Pujols.
Houston's bullpen tossed two perfect innings and has allowed only three earned runs in 10 games (0.81 ERA).
Astros: Unlike the Angels, who have nine players on the disabled list, Houston has only one (Carlos Gomez, rib bruise). ''Everyone else is peachy,'' Hinch said. ''I look around and there a few teams that have been a little less fortunate.''
Angels: RHP Tim Lincecum threw 75 pitches in five innings of an extended spring training game Saturday. He is expected to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Salt Lake. The Angels hope he can join the rotation by mid-June. ... Closer Huston Street (oblique strain) also threw 20 pitches in the camp game and could soon rejoin the Angels.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (4-3) is scheduled to start for Houston on Sunday. Fister has gone at least five innings in each of his previous nine starts but never more than seven innings.
Angels: RHP Nick Tropeano (3-2) will attempt to match the results of his last start - 6 2/3 scoreless innings on four hits against the Rangers - in the series finale against the Astros. Tropeano has won consecutive starts for the first time in his career.