HOUSTON (AP) - Houston rookie Lucas Harrell threw one of the best games of his young career against the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
His offense wasn't able to support the performance.
Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff triple and Michael Brantley drove in a run late to back up a strong start by Ubaldo Jimenez and the Indians got a 2-0 win over the Astros.
Harrell struck out a career-high nine in seven innings, allowing one run and two hits.
``The location of his fastball was pretty impressive,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``That was the biggest thing. He stayed aggressive with his fastball. He was making really good pitches on it.'
Harrell (6-6) said he felt comfortable against the Indians, many of whom he had faced in the minor leagues.
``I felt great,' Harrell said. ``I felt like I was keeping the ball down for the most part, and I really worked in my cutter a lot today.'
Choo made it 1-0 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera after his triple.
Brantley added an insurance run for the Indians with his RBI single with one out in the ninth inning.
Jimenez (7-5) allowed four hits with eight strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings. Chris Perez struck out the side in the ninth to complete the shutout and get his major league-leading 23rd save.
It was the second time in the past three games Houston has been shut out and the sixth time overall this season.
Houston catcher Chris Snyder, who has faced Jimenez each of the past four years, said he has seen him evolve as a pitcher.
``I faced him early in his career, when he was heavy on his breaking ball,' Snyder said. ``I faced him the year after that when he pumping the hard four seam, 98, and now, he's got a diving sinker right now in the low 90s. I think what you've seen from him is he is starting to pitch. He has always had good stuff, but now, he's pitching with it.'
Including Cabrera's out, Harrell retired 19 of the next 20 batters he faced. Cleveland's only base runner in that stretch came on a walk by Carlos Santana with two outs in the fourth.
Harrell didn't run into trouble until Santana and Brantley drew consecutive walks with one out in the seventh inning, before a single by Johnny Damon loaded the bases.
Harrell got out of the inning when Casey Kotchman flew out to right field and Brian Bogusevic's throw to Snyder was in time to throw out Santana at home.
The Indians finished with four hits to end a streak of four straight games with at least 10 hits.
The Astros had several opportunities to score, but were unable to connect at key times for the second straight game, going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in a 2-1 loss to the Royals on Wednesday.
Jordan Schafer walked with one out in the first inning and stole second before Jed Lowrie also walked. Jimenez escaped that jam when Carlos Lee grounded into a double play.
Chris Johnson singled in the fifth, but was out at second when Chris Snyder grounded into a force out. An error by Cabrera let Snyder take second before Harrell singled. Jimenez came out unscathed again when he retired Jose Altuve before striking out Schafer to end the inning.
Bogusevic doubled to left field to start Houston's seventh. Johnson and Snyder both grounded out before a walk by pinch-hitter Justin Maxwell chased Jimenez.
Reliever Joe Smith took over and struck out Altuve to leave the Astros empty-handed yet again.
``It is going to come,' Mills said of the Astros' offense. ``We had 12 strikeouts. We need to get away from that. We need to have a better two-strike approach . I don't want to take anything away from their guy (Jimenez), he threw the ball extremely well. We are going to have days like that. We need to put hits together and try to score some runs.'
Wesley Wright pitched a perfect eighth for Houston. David Carpenter allowed a single to Cabrera in the ninth before Fernando Abad took over. He walked Jason Kipnis before striking out Santana.
Brantley then singled to score Cabrera. Bogusevic scooped up the hit by Brantley and threw to the plate, but the high throw bounced off Snyder's glove and rolled away, sending Kipnis for home. But Snyder got the ball to Lee, who was covering home, to tag him out.
NOTES: Houston starter Bud Norris, on the DL with a sprained knee, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. ... Houston OF Maxwell had an MRI on Thursday that revealed what Mills called a ``loose body' in his left ankle. He wasn't in the starting lineup, but pinch-hit in the seventh inning.
The Associated Press News Service
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