Back to business as usual for Keuchel
(c) Associated Press
The Astros made it three straight wins with a 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. Dallas Keuchel, who missed his last start with a pinched nerve in his neck, threw six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. Dallas fanned eight and picked up the win to move to 8-0 for the year.
Houston got to Baltimore starter Wade Miley early, putting together three singles and a double to plate a pair of runs in the first inning.
The Orioles closed the gap to 2-1 in the third. After Caleb Joseph coaxed a 2-out walk, Joey Rickard and Wellington Castillo hit back-to-back singles off Keuchel. The Astros ace then got Manny Machado on a soft come-backer to the mound to end the threat. It was one of seven groundouts induced by Keuchel in the game. The Orioles had only one flyout all evening and struck out a total of 13 times.
George Springer launched his tenth homer of the season in the fourth, a 2-run shot to left-center off Miley that made it 4-1 Houston.
Tony Sipp was the first Astro out of the bullpen -- and the only one to be charged with a run scored. Chris Davis greeted Sipp with a long drive to right-center that bounced off the fence on the fly, resulting in a triple. James Hoyt replaced Sipp on the mound and Davis came in to score when Hoyt uncorked a wild pitch.
The Astros got that run back in the bottom of the seventh when Altuve led off the inning with a single, stole second, and came home on a Carlos Correa single. The Astros were unable to tack on any more runs despite a double by Evan Gattis that put runners at second and third with nobody out.
But five runs was plenty for the Houston bullpen. Hoyt went 1-1/3 scoreless, Luke Gregerson contributed 2/3 of an inning without incident and Will Harris pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save of the year.
Brian McCann also returned from the disabled list and got the start behind the plate. McCann went 0-for-2 but did manage to draw a pair of walks. Four Astros enjoyed multi-hit games, including Jose Altuve who had two doubles and a single and scored twice.
The win gives the Astros a league-best 34-16 record after 50 games and a 9-game lead in the division. Lance McCullers goes to the mound Sunday at 1:10 as the Astros go for a sweep of the 3-game series as they close out a 10-game homestand that started with three straight losses to Cleveland.
The club has announced Brad Peacock will start Monday's game in Minnesota, replacing the struggling Mike Fiers who will be moved to the bullpen.
- Greg Thurston