ARLINGTON -- Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel was in command like it was 2015, and, at 101 pitches, manager A.J. Hinch had no trouble sending him out for the eighth inning of a tie game Tuesday night. Keuchel, despite his struggles this season, has been pitching better of late and certainly has earned the manager's trust.
Keuchel got Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson -- who had singled and homered in his previous at-bats against him -- to bounce to out start the inning before Jurickson Profar reached on a single and Ian Desmond walloped a 1-0 changeup for a two-run homer to center to send the Rangers to a 4-3 win at Globe Life Park.
"That's probably the best I've felt all year," Keuchel said. "I was able to get some quality off-speed over for strikes early and get them off the fastball. But I can't take that pitch back. It had been working for me all night, and that's been a good pitch for me the last few starts. Maybe throw it an inch out more? But you've got to give credit to Desmond. This park flies. He got it up in the air and it just cleared the fence."
Hinch had right-hander Luke Gregerson warming up in the eighth, but opted to send Keuchel back out with the intention of getting him to try to get through Wilson, Profar, Desmond and lefty Nomar Mazara.
"Obviously didn't get there," Hinch said. "Profar got the single and then Keuchel, you know, who had gotten a double play the inning before and had his punchouts, he could get through Desmond without that kind of damage. We were about a foot short."
Desmond's fly ball to straightaway center was just over the glove of leaping center fielder Carlos Gomez at the wall.
"I mean, just the way the ball came off Wilson's bat as well -- it seems like he's like Babe Ruth against me right now -- I knew when it went up in the air it was a good chance because this park flies," Keuchel said. "That's a terrible feeling to have. Make a quality pitch and he just puts a better swing on it."
Keuchel came into the game with consecutive quality starts under his belt for the first time this year. Even though he didn't, by definition, earn a quality start Tuesday, his 3.98 ERA and 19 hits allowed in his last 20 1/3 innings are a step in the right direction.
"It's a bad feeling for me when I give up a lead and potentially see the game go out from my grasp," he said. "We squandered a lot of opportunities."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.