Consistent Keuchel carries Astros once again

Twelfth consecutive quality start helps Houston win 10th straight game with lefty on hill

Consistent Keuchel carries Astros once again

SAN DIEGO -- Astros ace Dallas Keuchel did something in the first inning Wednesday at Petco Park he hasn't done much of so far his year: he gave up a run.

Keuchel quickly took control of the game and sent down 23 of the final 24 Padres batters he faced, including 14 in a row after Matt Kemp's RBI double in the first, to lead the Astros to a 7-2 victory and series sweep, marking their sixth consecutive win and 10th in 11 games.

"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."

Keuchel (3-0, 0.73 ERA) has posted the lowest ERA by an Astros starting pitcher through his first five games of a season. He's thrown 12 consecutive quality starts since Aug. 15 of last year, and the Astros have won 10 consecutive games in which he's started.

"At the end of the year, if it's still the lowest [ERA], I'll take something," Keuchel said. "I don't really take much out of the first five starts. I got to continue to grind and try to get better each and every time out, and I think the other four starters would say the same thing."

The Padres came out with a game plan to try to go the other way against Keuchel, but he quickly adjusted. The only hit he allowed after Kemp's double in the first was a single by opposing pitcher Andrew Cashner.

"They were going to dive out over the plate a little bit," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He made an adjustment midgame to start to back them off the plate a little bit. We've seen this a lot out of him. Once he catches his rhythm and gets his slot right, he's a very, very difficult pitcher to center up."

The Padres had no answer for the lefty.

"You see why this guy's had the success since he's come on the scene," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "He pitched great."

Astros catcher Hank Conger has a greater appreciation for Keuchel now that he's seen him from behind the plate as a teammate in his first year in Houston.

"Wow, it's impressive," Conger said. "I think the biggest thing today that I saw from him was just commanding both sides of the plate. Everyone knows he has the sinker, it runs arm side on him. I think you ... see the hitters early on kind of going the other way against him. For him to work the other side of the plate was huge."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.