Keuchel outduels Cashner as Astros complete road sweep
By Corey Brock and Brian McTaggart
SAN DIEGO -- Colby Rasmus hit a two-run home run and Dallas Keuchel allowed one run over eight innings Wednesday as the Astros finished a three-game sweep of the Padres with a 7-2 victory before a crowd of 21,824 at Petco Park. Houston has won six in a row and 10 of its last 11 games.
Keuchel (3-0) retired 23 of the final 24 hitters he faced. He allowed three hits, no walks and had four strikeouts, inducing a lot of weak contact. Keuchel's 0.73 ERA is the lowest in Astros history for a starting pitcher through five starts in a season.
"We have a lot of potential, and it's nice to see the guys in the lineup just roll it over," Keuchel said. "With that being said, some of the guys haven't even hit their peaks, so I think we have still have room to grow, and it's just fun to be a part of right now, especially with the way some of those guys are running the bases out there and setting us up for some runs."
San Diego pitcher Andrew Cashner (1-4) allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts in seven innings, setting a Major League record with 21 consecutive home starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed. The Padres have lost seven of their last eight games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Six up, six down: Cashner had electric stuff early, as he struck out the first six hitters he faced -- a franchise record. He did so by finishing off all but one of the first six Astros hitters with a slider. Jake Marisnick ended the strikeout streak with a double to start the third inning.
"My slider is finally back to where [it was when] I came over in 2012. A lot of it has been working with [pitching coach] Darren Balsley and keeping my hand speed, selling it like a fastball." More >
Keuchel shakes off early run: Keuchel entered Wednesday's game having been scored upon in only one of the 29 innings he had pitched this year. The Padres tagged him with a first-inning run on a Matt Kemp RBI double, but Keuchel retired the next 14 batters he faced and 23 of the final 24 to remain undefeated.
"I just try to continue to make pitches," Keuchel said. "The more pitches you make in the course of a game, the better off you're going to be most of the time, and now I just try to follow that groove." More >
First-inning production: So much for settling into the game slowly. The Padres got a run in the first inning Wednesday on Kemp's RBI double that scored Wil Myers for the first run of the game. San Diego has been very proficient in terms of scoring in the first inning. The Padres have now outscored their opponents, 22-13, in the first inning of games.
Colby's jack lifts Astros: Rasmus launched a 425-foot two-run home run to right field with one out in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie and help give Keuchel and the Astros the win. It was the second homer in three games for Rasmus, and Houston's seventh long ball in the three-game series at Petco Park.
Altuve continues hot streak:Jose Altuve, the reigning Major League batting champ, went 2-for-4 for his seventh consecutive multihit game. During that stretch, he's hitting .471 (16-for-34) with four doubles, a homer and eight RBIs to raise his batting average to .355 -- second best on the team behind Marisnick (.389). More >
"What a great trip -- good baseball, good adjustments on the fly, a lot of winning baseball, which is all you can ask for. It's a very, very good trip for this club. I'm proud of these guys and the way we're playing and the continuation of good baseball. We're taking advantage of the opportunity to win games. That's a good recipe for us." -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch, on his team's 8-1 road trip
"It's a lot of games, but overall, you've seen us get off to a really good start [at] 10-5. And we've had a tough week. But I think we've seen some offense, we've seen some good pitching, we've seen some pitching that hasn't been so good lately, especially out of the bullpen." -- Padres manager Bud Black, on his team's recent play and its 11-12 mark in April More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros' 8-1 record on their three-city road trip through Seattle, Oakland and San Diego is their best record on any nine-game trip in franchise history. Their 10-2 road record is their best through 12 games in their history.
UNFORTUNATE FIRST FOR KIMBREL
In a swoon where they've lost seven of their last eight games, the Padres haven't needed closer Craig Kimbrel but once since April 21. He got into Wednesday's game to get some work in a non-save situation, and he allowed three earned runs while getting just one out. This marked the first time in his career that he has allowed three earned runs in one appearance.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Coming off their most successful road trip in recent memory, the Astros open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park on Thursday against the Mariners at 7:10 p.m. CT. Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman takes the mound looking for his third consecutive win. He's posted three quality starts in four outings this season and 10 of his last 11 dating to Aug. 20, 2014. Feldman posted a 2.87 ERA in that stretch.
Padres: San Diego is off on Thursday before opening a three-game series at Petco Park on Friday against the Rockies. Ian Kennedy (0-1, 10.80 ERA) gets the start, and he is coming off an outing in which he allowed eight earned runs against the Dodgers.