Keuchel tosses 3-hitter, Astros improve to 2-9 vs Rangers
HOUSTON (AP) Dallas Keuchel looked like the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, and the Houston hitters woke up to support him.
Keuchel pitched a three-hitter and the Astros beat Texas for just the second time in 11 tries this season, topping the Rangers 5-0 Friday night.
Jose Altuve had two hits and drove in two runs as the Astros closed within 5 1/2 games of the AL West-leading Rangers. Houston had lost three in a row overall.
''I don't know if it's ever easy against these guys, but it was clearly his best game,'' Houston manager A.J. Hinch said about Keuchel. ''He made his pitches in the strike zone or close enough for them to have to deal with them. Just a really gutsy performance at a time when we needed it.''
Keuchel (7-11) allowed a career low in hits while throwing his fourth major league shutout. He struck out seven and walked two.
''First start in August, it is getting down to the final two months,'' Keuchel said.
''This is the first start I knew going in that it was going to be good because the way my body felt, the way it was recovering in between workouts. You get a feeling that the body is turning around right in the nick of time for August and September.''
Keuchel was coming off one of his worst starts of the season in which he was tagged for seven runs in five innings Sunday at Detroit.
Houston got to Martin Perez (7-8) for four runs in the third. Altuve hit an RBI double, Carlos Correa followed with a two-run single before Tyler White had an RBI single.
''That's the way we play,'' Correa said. ''When we are at our best, we are able to turn the game around in one inning. We were able to do that tonight. It was great, and we got the win.''
Keuchel got off to a shaky start, giving up a double, single and walk in the first inning, along with throwing a wild pitch.
''I made some pitches and settled down, but I knew from the get-go that if I was able to get a groundball with two outs, I would be in good shape,'' Keuchel said.
After that, he permitted just two more runners before Adrian Beltre doubled in the ninth.
''We saw the same guy that won the Cy Young last year,'' Beltre said.'' He relies on throwing the ball on the corners. Make you chase, keeping the ball down and that's what he tried to do.''
Evan Gattis had three hits for Houston, which scored as many runs as it had totaled in the previous five games.
Perez lost his fourth straight decision. He hasn't won since June 26 against Boston.
''I just think I need to control the ball,'' Perez said. ''Sometimes I'm trying to throw perfect pitches. Trying to look for the pitch for double plays and when a pitcher tries to throw perfect pitches you don't have a chance. Just need to control the ball and see what happens.''
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (left shoulder inflammation) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock. He threw two scoreless innings, with one hit, one walk and two strikeouts on 28 pitches. ... CF Drew Stubbs (toe) continued a rehab assignment Friday with Round Rock. Stubbs entered Friday 7 for 32 in 11 rehab games.
Rangers: RHP Lucas Harrell (3-2) will make his second start with Texas after coming over from Atlanta in a trade July 27. He allowed three runs in six innings against Kansas City in his first start with Texas on Sunday.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (10-7) will make his 22nd start of the season. He will look to continue the success he had in his last outing Monday when he threw six scoreless innings.
Fister will come off the three-day paternity list Saturday in order to make the start. The Astros optioned RHP Brad Peacock to Triple-A Fresno to make room on the roster for Fister.