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|04-10-2016, 08:50 PM||#1|
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Brewers get to wild Astros ace Dallas Keuchel for 3-2 win
Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel had control problems in the first inning.
His teammates were unable to bail him out at the plate late in the game.
Jose Altuve and Preston Tucker homered against Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson, but that was it for Houston's offense and Keuchel's early wildness was costly in a 3-2 loss to the Brewers on Sunday.
The AL Cy Young Award winner walked four in the first inning and gave up a two-run single to Aaron Hill. Keuchel (1-1) left with two outs in the sixth with a career high-tying six walks, including an intentional pass to Ryan Braun in the fourth.
"I had some good late movement but I couldn't really corral it in the strike zone," Keuchel said.
Walks have an early problem for the left-hander, who issued four of them in seven innings during his season-opening 5-3 victory last week against the Yankees.
Manager A.J. Hinch said he thought Keuchel was "a little excitable" early in the game and rushing through his delivery.
"It was just more of a lack of feel for him, which is uncommon for him," Hinch said.
Domingo Santana added an RBI double in the fourth for rebuilding Milwaukee, which took two of three in the interleague series against the AL West contenders.
Keuchel (1-1) eventually settled down. He struck out eight and allowed six hits.
"Well, I think it's a bad start to the day. He came back and did his part," Hinch said.
Altuve homered to deep left on the game's first pitch. Tucker connected in the fifth.
Nelson (1-1) struck out nine in six-plus innings. He allowed three hits and walked four.
WHAT A RELIEF
Milwaukee's bullpen worked out of jams in seventh and eighth before Jeremy Jeffress pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
The game ended with Jeffress snaring a hard liner up the middle by Tucker.
"Everybody down there is doing a nice job," manager Craig Counsell said.
The bullpen has performed well despite injuries to key relievers Will Smith and Corey Knebel.
Jeffress, in his first season closing, showed off his quick reflexes on Tucker's screamer.
"That was a rocket, man. I saw it off the bat, and fortunately I caught it, I alligator-armed it and it went right in," Jeffress said.
The Astros botched a wheel play in the fourth with Nelson at the plate. The pitcher showed bunt but then pulled the bat back and hit a bouncer to third to a charging Marwin Gonzalez. But second baseman Altuve appeared to hesitate on his way to covering first, allowing Nelson to reach.
On offense, Houston also had two runners caught stealing and a third picked off.
"Early in the first week, we've made a few mental mistakes. We're better than that," Hinch said.
Astros: Hinch received a one-word text on Sunday from injured DH Evan Gattis. "Ready," Hinch said in relaying the message. Gattis, who is recovering from sports hernia surgery, is scheduled to play Monday at his rehab stint at Double-A Corpus Christi after the day off on Sunday. Team brass will discuss if Gattis will join the team for the home-opening series this week against Kansas City when the Astros return home.
Brewers: C Jonathan Lucroy got his first day off of the season, with Martin Maldonado getting the start behind the plate.
Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (0-1) starts Houston's home opener against the Kansas City Royals in a rematch of an AL division series last season. McHugh took the loss in the Royals' clinching Game 5, allowing three runs in four innings.
Brewers: RHP Taylor Jungmann (0-0) takes the hill in St. Louis for the Cardinals' home opener. It's the second straight season that the Brewers have been the opponent for home opener at Busch Stadium.
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP