By Brittany Ghiroli and Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- Adam Jones launched a long home run to left field off reliever Chad Qualls with two outs in the eighth inning to help the Orioles snap a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Astros on Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"I don't talk about streaks and slumps ... what's it mean tomorrow?" said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was ejected in the second inning. "We will take it. They are a very good team. You got to be on top of things to beat them."
The Astros squandered numerous chances, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They put the first two runners on base in the sixth and loaded the bases with one out in the seventh without scoring. Reliever Darren O'Day struck out George Springer and got Jose Altuve to fly out to strand three on base in the seventh.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, coming off consecutive complete games, held the Orioles to two runs and six hits while striking out seven in six innings. Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen struck out a season-high nine batters in 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs, including a solo homer by Hank Conger.
"A lot of what-ifs today," said Keuchel, who allowed a rare stolen base in the first inning that led to a run. "We really didn't deserve a chance to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Jones goes deep: Jones connected for his first homer since May 11, driving Qualls' 1-0 slider for the go-ahead blast.
"It's totally my fault, just a backup slider that I put on a tee and he hit it out," Qualls said. "He did his job. I made a mistake pitch."
The solo shot was Jones' seventh home run on the season.
"They had men at third base with less than two outs. We had five or six strikeouts with men on third base today," Jones said. "It's a team effort, and if you're efficient and you do what you have to do, handle your own and control what you can control, good things can happen."
Missed chances: The Astros went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven on base. They squandered a big chance in the sixth when Springer led off the inning with a walk and Altuve singled before Chen came back with three consecutive outs, including a pair of strikeouts. O'Day escaped a jam in the seventh after he had walked Colby Rasmus to load the bases with one out. More >
"That's baseball," Altuve said. "We've been playing really good late in the game this season, but today was a different game. We won three out of the four games and wanted to win today, but we'll go out tomorrow and have the same attitude we have right now."
The great escape: After Chen pitched around a pair of baserunners in the sixth, the lefty allowed a leadoff walk and a double in the seventh. One out later, his afternoon ended in favor of O'Day, who walked pinch-hitter Rasmus to load the bases. But the righty was able to maneuver out of the inning, striking out Springer and retiring Altuve on a flyout to keep the game tied at 2. More >
"We haven't been playing as well as we can. We know that we're better than the team that's been out there," O'Day said. "Today we played a pretty tight game. We're not getting blown out. It's just the little things you do to win a game in all facets of the game. Getting out of jams is big. It kind of gives you a little momentum surge, and Adam had great timing there with that home run."
"It's hard to be disappointed when you win three out of four, it's hard to be disappointed when you have a winning homestand. These guys have been doing it and coming through in a lot of instances. Obviously, we want to be perfect or as close to perfect as we can, and missed opportunities still hurt, but understandably our guys have battled hard and sometimes it doesn't go your way." -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch
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Keuchel has gone 23 consecutive starts of at least six innings, the longest active streak in the Majors.
Showalter was ejected in the second inning after arguing a called third strike to Ryan Flaherty. More >
"Surprised by [home-plate umpire] Brian [Gorman] giving him that much plate, there wasn't that much plate out there," Showalter said. "Nowadays you are very sure before you make a point."
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Three-time All-Star Matt Wieters will make his season debut Friday in Cleveland behind the plate. Chris Tillman gets the start vs. the Tribe in the game, which starts at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Astros: The Astros, who have one of the best road records in baseball at 15-8, head to Toronto to open a three-game series against the Blue Jays at 6:07 p.m. CT on Friday. Roberto Hernandez, who's scuffled in his recent starts, will get the start for the Astros, who have won three of their last five games away from Minute Maid Park.