Keuchel's rare error proves costly vs. Angels

'It's a tough one to swallow,' Astros' ace says after 3-2 loss

Keuchel's rare error proves costly vs. Angels

ANAHEIM -- It's the kind of play Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel has made dozens of times this year with no problems. Angels second baseman Taylor Featherston hit a high chopper back to the mound in the second inning Friday night that clipped off the glove of Keuchel for a rare error.

The miscue led to three unearned runs crossing the plate, allowing the Angels to pull off a crucial 3-2 win over the Astros in the series opener at Angel Stadium. All three runs scored off Keuchel were unearned, marking the first time this year the Astros lost when not allowing an earned run.

"It's a routine play that I just botched," Keuchel said. "I can't really say anything else. It's got a lot of topspin, but I've made the play before. That was the difference in the game. Like I said, it's a tough one to swallow and we'll get a win tomorrow."

The error was the first committed by Keuchel since May 25, 2014, and it was only the fourth of his career. He won the Gold Glove award at pitcher in the American League last year.

"I was surprised by a couple of things that were uncharacteristic of him, a few walks and obviously the misplay in the second, and they took advantage of it and got three runs," manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's rare to watch him struggle with his command a little bit. I don't know what happened on the chopper. He could have lost it in the people or lights or something, but it came back to haunt us."

Keuchel walked Carlos Perez with two outs in the second to put runners at first and second. Featherston, the Angels' No. 9 hitter, reached on the error, and a wild pitch by Keuchel scored Erick Aybar. Kole Calhoun followed with a two-run double.

"It was just a bad play by me," Keuchel said. "That's it. One play. Routine play that I missed, and that was the difference. It's frustrating. It doesn't sit very well."

Keuchel (17-7) sent down the final nine batters he faced, lowering his ERA to 2.22. He has gone at least six innings in a club-record 40 consecutive starts.

"This guy competes as good as anybody," Hinch said. "I like that he didn't fold after the big inning and he's probably as strong as he's been the entire outing the last couple of innings. I think he retired eight of nine straight to finish his outing. He stuck it out and held them in check until we could make it a little bit of a closer game. We've come to expect that out of Dallas."

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.