HOUSTON (AP) – Dallas Keuchel admitted he felt like he was back in midseason form following Friday night’s performance.
After a second straight dominant outing, it would be hard to argue with him.
Keuchel threw seven shutout innings, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve homered and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1.
Keuchel (11-2) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three.
“He was awesome and really impressive with how he went about it with only one difficult inning they made him work,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s so fun to watch pitch when he can control contact the way he does, the ball’s on the ground.”
Keuchel was making his fifth start since coming off the disabled list after missing nearly two months with neck discomfort.
“The two seam was definitely working a lot better,” Keuchel said. “I felt like it had more movement than Arlington. It was probably the best movement I have had in a long time pre-injury.”
The left-hander, who was 9-0 before landing on the disabled list, had his second straight solid outing after allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings Sunday at Texas.
“Just an exceptional performance by him, he’s fun to watch,” Hinch said. “It’s easy to see why he’s one of the elite pitchers in the league.”
The 2015 AL Cy Young winner retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, with the lone hit being a bunt single by Matt Joyce down the third base line and away from the shift in the third inning.
“Sinkers, that’s what he does,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Keuchel. “We were having trouble getting the ball in the air and he’s getting the low strike. It’s going to be tough.”
Of the 21 outs Keuchel recorded, 16 were ground balls.
“Anytime he takes the mound, you’re expecting a lot of action,” Bregman said. “He was sinking it well, cutting it in on the righties’ hands. Good changeup, slider. He was getting a lot of ground balls.”
Bregman and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs in the third to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Bregman hit his 14th of the season to right field, while Altuve hit his 19th into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Josh Reddick upped the lead to 3-0 with an RBI single in the sixth.
Ken Giles recorded the final five outs for his 24th save.
Joyce, who was also walked by Keuchel, hit a solo home run in the eighth off Chris Devenski.
Sean Manaea (8-8) lost his third straight, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. The left-hander had allowed six runs in each of his last three starts and had not pitched past the fourth since July 27.
“This game was huge for me, I definitely needed to bounce back,” Manaea said. “Especially after the last three starts. Overall I thought I did a pretty good job. Locating the fastball into righties and getting some weak contact. Overall I was happy with it. Just try and build off this and take it into the next start.”
Athletics: C Josh Phegley (oblique) was not in the starting lineup Friday for Triple-A Nashville as he continues a rehab assignment. Phegley is 2 for 7 with an RBI through two rehab games. … OF Jake Smolinski (right shoulder) continued his rehab assignment with Class- A Advanced Stockton on Friday. He is 5 for 18 in five games.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (thumb) took ground balls, ran the bases and hit inside, Hinch said. … C Evan Gattis (concussion) took live batting practice against LHP Tony Sipp (right calf) and RHP Will Harris (right shoulder), Hinch said.
Home plate umpire Jerry Layne left the game with a left hand contusion with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after being hit by a foul ball by George Springer, the Astros said. The ball bounced up and hit Layne. He grabbed his hand immediately, and after being attended to by the Astros trainer, walked off the field. Second base umpire Dan Bellino moved to home plate, and the game finished with three umpires.
A decision will be made in the morning if he will call Saturday’s game.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (3-3) will start Saturday looking to build on his last outing where he allowed two runs in seven innings in a win over Baltimore. Graveman is 1-1 with a 7.53 ERA since coming off the disabled list Aug. 3.
Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (0-2) makes his sixth start of the season Saturday looking for his first win. McHugh is 6-1 with a 3.02 ERA in his career against Oakland.
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