Keuchel solid, but road woes continue

Left-hander struggles during early innings in tough loss to A's

Keuchel solid, but road woes continue

OAKLAND -- Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, a Gold Glove winner who is among the best in the game at inducing ground balls, was left with little margin for error on Friday night against Oakland's Sonny Gray, so when he wasn't able to make some plays on the infield it spelled trouble.

Keuchel didn't pitch poorly, but was outdueled by Gray, who threw a complete game without issuing a walk in the A's' 3-1 win over the Astros. Keuchel went 7 2/3 innings and allowed three runs and 10 hits -- eight singles -- to fall to 3-6 on the road this year.

"It was one of those days I'd like to have a few plays back," Keuchel said. "I botched about three balls I usually make and that was the difference. Early on, I fought well, but just wasn't making quality pitches in hitters' counts and on the road with a quality opponent, even though they're not playing ball like they would like to, I can't afford to do that. And it cost me."

Keuchel (13-6) allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of his first five innings, including a homer off the bat of Danny Valencia in the third to make it 2-0. One play Keuchel wasn't able to make was a second-inning chopper off the bat of Mark Canha that allowed the A's to load the bases for Billy Burns, who delivered a sac fly.

"That's something I'm normally sure-handed at," Keuchel said. "That's what I'm most disappointed at myself. It was nobody else's fault. I just wasn't very good early."

The early traffic ran Keuchel's pitch count up to 59 pitches through three innings, but he threw only 42 over the next four innings.

"I thought they were taking some good pitches early and forcing me into hitters' counts," Keuchel said. "Even though they didn't really hit the ball extremely hard off me, but it was good luck for them. I can't find myself in hitters' counts consistently early on. I need to find my groove, but Sonny had pitched a heck of a game."

Keuchel was pulled after giving up a two-out single in the eighth, just one out shy of what would have been a complete game in a loss.

"All in all, Dallas puts us in position to have a chance," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Tonight wasn't a night where we had much room for error."

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