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|05-22-2016, 09:00 PM||#1|
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Keuchel undone by big 3rd inning as Rangers beat Astros
Dallas Keuchel knows Sunday's game could have turned out a lot differently if only he could have put the Texas Rangers away after getting the first two outs in the third inning.
Instead, Texas tacked on four more runs to a one-run lead and cruised to a 9-2 win over the Houston Astros.
"I just have to be mentally tougher," the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner said. "I've got to make a big pitch with two outs and get us out of some jams. But I'm doing it to myself and that's just the way it's going right now. But I'll get out of it and we'll be better because of it."
Nomar Mazara hit an RBI single during a five-run third against Keuchel (2-6) and added a two-run homer in the seventh.
Keuchel retired his first six batters before running into trouble in the third. Things got off to a bad start in that inning when he plunked Ryan Rua. A double by Bobby Wilson, which bounced off the wall in center field, scored Rua to make it 1-0.
Keuchel struck out the next two batters before an RBI single by Ian Desmond. Prince Fielder drew a walk before a two-run double by Adrian Beltre made it 4-0. Mazara followed with his run-scoring single.
The left-hander's outing was a continuation of struggles he's had all year in the follow-up to his 20-win season. He allowed nine hits and seven runs in six innings, extending his skid to five games.
It's his longest losing streak since he dropped a career-high seven in a row as a rookie in 2012.
"Controlling damage when everything in the ballpark is telling you that things are not going your way is going to be key for Dallas," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're used to him doing that and he'll do it again."
Cole Hamels fanned a season-high 11 in eight sparkling innings to help the Rangers to the victory that completed a three-game sweep.
"Early he was pretty sharp, had a good breaking ball, fastball, was cutting the ball, changeup -- like the Cole Hamels everybody's seen for a decade," Hinch said. "Once he got the five-run cushion, then it's a whole new animal that you're tackling when it comes to an elite pitcher like that. Then he started coming right at us with fastballs, just pounding the zone."
The Rangers have taken six in row from Houston and 14 of 16. The Astros have lost four straight overall.
Hamels (5-0) has won a career-best 12 straight decisions dating to last year. He allowed five hits and two runs -- one earned -- in his longest start this season to lower his ERA to 2.83.
Wilson and Beltre each drove in two runs for the Rangers. Evan Gattis hit a solo home run.
The Astros had managed just one hit against Hamels before Gattis connected on an 85 mph changeup for his homer with two outs in the sixth.
Rangers: Yu Darvish (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to make his fifth start for Triple-A Frisco on Sunday. If he comes out of that OK, he'll make his first major league start since Aug. 9, 2014 on Saturday against Pittsburgh after missing all last season following his surgery.
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez (bruised left ribcage) is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday. He'll play a few games there, getting some work in center field and as the designated hitter.
Rangers: Derek Holland (3-3, 5.62) will start when Texas begins a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. Holland will look to end a two-game skid and pick up his first win since April 30.
Astros: Houston has a day off on Monday before Doug Fister (4-3, 4.22) starts on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. Fister will look for his fourth straight win in what will be his eighth start.