HOUSTON (AP) - Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel made a good impression with a strong start Friday night against the Texas Rangers.
With the exception of a bases-loaded walk and allowing a mammoth home run to Nelson Cruz, Keuchel was efficient in his first start of the season after making six appearances out of the bullpen.
However, after the Astros turned the game over to the bullpen, Jeff Baker hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh, and Texas relievers threw 3 1-3 hitless innings to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 win over Houston.
Keuchel, who started one game at Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier this season, allowed two runs and five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in six innings.
``I feel like I could have gone longer,' Keuchel said. ``I felt like I got on a pretty good roll with everyone grounding out, except for that bomb I gave up. When I walked (Elvis Andrus) with the bases loaded in the third, that is the pitch that I want back.'
Astros manager Bo Porter said he took Keuchel out of the game ``on a good note' and praised him for working out of the bases-loaded jam after the walk to Andrus.
``Dallas was tremendous,' Porter added. ``He did a great job of attacking the zone and throwing the sinker ball away. He pitched to both sides of the plate and got a lot of ground balls. He kept us right there for six innings.'
Baker greeted Wesley Wright (0-1) with a leadoff home run to right field on the first pitch he saw to give the Rangers their first lead of the night at 3-2.
``I was trying to get ahead, and he was able to drive it out to the opposite field,' Wright said. ``You just have to sometimes tip your hat to the other guy when they can do that. I think as a whole, we threw pretty well tonight, but they were able to get some solo shots off us to kind of put the game away.'
Robbie Ross (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings before Tanner Scheppers pitched the eighth and Joe Nathan the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
David Murphy also hit a home run for the Rangers, leading off the ninth inning against Travis Blackley to extend Texas' lead.
Cruz tied the score at 2-2 with a monstrous solo home run to left field in the sixth. The 416-foot shot bounced off the glass facade above the railroad tracks for Cruz's eighth homer of the season.
Trevor Crowe put the Astros in front 1-0 in the second with a solo home run to left field off Alexi Ogando. The home run was Crowe's first in 234 at_bats since July 23, 2010, with Cleveland.
``It was good to get the team out to a lead like that,' Crowe said. ``But once (Ogando) started throwing the offspeed for strikes, he became real tough He struggled a little bit early, but then he got his offspeed going.'
Elvis Andrus tied it at 1-1 in the third with a bases loaded walk. The Rangers loaded the bases with one out on a walk by Geovany Soto and singles by Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler. Following Andrus' walk, Keuchel struck out Lance Berkman and got Adrian Beltre to fly out to center to end the inning.
Houston responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning as Jose Altuve doubled with one out, advanced to third on Jason Castro's groundout and scored on Ogando's wild pitch to make it 2-1.
Ogando was rocky in the first, loading the bases on a walk to Chris Carter with two outs before inducing a flyout to center by Carlos Pena to end the inning.
Ogando went 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits with three strikeouts and a season-high four walks.
NOTES: Houston RHP Josh Fields, who has been on the disabled list since April 4 with a strained right forearm, began a rehab assignment Friday with Class A Quad Cities. ... Rangers RHP Yu Darvish, who is 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA, will take the mound Saturday for the first time against Houston since he threw 8 2-3 perfect innings against the Astros on April 2. Houston will counter with LHP Erik Bedard, who is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA.
The Associated Press News Service
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