HOUSTON (AP) — Dallas Keuchel threw a gem Sunday — and he is only the Houston Astros’ fourth-best starting pitcher.
Keuchel allowed three hits in seven shutout innings, Evan Gattis and Carlos Correa homered for the second straight game and the (backslash)Astros defeated the Texas Rangers 6-1.
Keuchel (3-5) struck out eight and walked one. He lowered his ERA from 3.53 to 3.10 with his third straight outing giving up three runs or fewer.
“He just knew he could throw the ball where he wanted to at the speed which he wanted to,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s a very good strength of Dallas, when he can mess and disrupt the timing of the hitter.”
Houston’s starters have the top three ERAs in the American League led by Justin Verlander at a major league-best 1.21. Gerrit Cole is at 1.43 and Charlie Morton at 2.03.
Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre hit consecutive singles in the first, and Keuchel retired 16 of his next 17 batters around Jurickson Profar’s two-out double in the fourth.
“Once you establish the zone to a certain extent you start getting guys antsy and I feel like some of those guys were ready to hit early, and stay above the hitting speed or below the hitting speed and you’ve got a pretty good chance,” Keuchel said. “I was thankful to do that.”
Carlos Perez homered off Hector Rondon in the eighth. Brad Peacock struck out the side in the ninth, completing a six-hitter. Houston has won five of six after losing five of six.
Matt Moore (1-5) allowed three runs and six hits in three innings.
“I thought the first two innings were really good,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Third inning he started working from behind. Missed some pitches over the plate. There were deep counts.”
Moore has given up 18 runs and 26 hits over 12 2/3 innings in his last three starts.
“The stuff coming out felt like the swing-and-miss stuff,” Moore said. “The fastballs that were getting swung through, the changeups — I threw three or four breaking balls, not many. That type of stuff was encouraging. I felt like I had good stuff.”
Yuli Gurriel hit an RBI single in the third, and Gattis had a two-run homer. Correa hit a two-run homer in the seventh against Kevin Jepsen, and Derek Fisher added a sacrifice fly.
“It’s nice when we’re all clicking on all cylinders,” Gattis said. “But we don’t have to have nine guys absolutely hot to win.”
LHP Brandon Mann was brought up from Triple-A Round Rock and at 33 years, 362 days became the second-oldest player to make his debut for Texas when he entered in the seventh. Mann allowed one hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. RHP Yoshinori Tateyama was 35 years, 149 days when he debuted in 2011.
Rangers: Beltre left with one out in the seventh after re-aggravating a left hamstring injury. He fielded a Max Stassi slow chopper and was trying to tag Gurriel at third on the play before he came out. Beltre was activated off the disabled list on May 8 after missing 12 games with a left hamstring strain.
Beltre said the injury felt similar to the earlier strain but in a different spot. Banister said there is no timetable as of yet, but the team will know more when it gets to Seattle for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
“Tough because I didn’t feel any setback, I didn’t feel the hamstring at all,” Beltre said. “I was trying to protect it the whole time because I knew it would take me a little longer to run hard on any play. That play when I turned, I felt it right away. Disappointed, but nothing I can do now.”
Astros: OF George Springer was out of the lineup a second straight day after being hit on the left elbow by a Cole Hamels fastball. “Hopefully, he will be back in there tomorrow,” Hinch said. “He was bouncing around the clubhouse, and I think he’s done a little activity already.”
Rangers: LHP Mike Minor (3-2) starts Tuesday’s opener of a three-game series at Seattle. Minor has allowed at least four runs in two of his last three starts.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1) takes the mound Monday at the Los Angeles Angels. McCullers is 4-0 in six starts since an April 6 loss to San Diego.
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