"Dallas was great," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He had dominated until the end and then was one pitch away from maybe a double play, and he ends up giving up a double and they nicked him for a couple of runs, but really quality outing by him."
Keuchel hadn't pitched since July 10 because of the All-Star break. He was slotted into the fifth game in the schedule coming out of the break and then threw a season-high 116 pitches.
"[Eight] days off kind of threw me off, and I got pretty tired there at the end," he said. "They got two [runs in the seventh]. I had to battle all night. A lot of 3-2 counts and was able to establish the fastball in and work the cutter and two-seam off that and did some good, but other than that, I felt real rusty. [Eight] days off, that's tough for a control pitcher like myself."
Keuchel carried a shutout into the seventh inning before giving up a single to Billy Butler and a double to Jake Smolinski to put runners at second and third with no outs. Both runners eventually scored on a Ryon Healy double off Ken Giles.
"I left a few pitches up," Keuchel said. "Like I said, I was getting a little tired, but still trying to get that last pitch and didn't get it tonight. That's tough, but at the same time, there's a lot of positives to this game, and hopefully we'll take some out of that."
Keuchel said the long layoff was like skipping a full turn on the rotation.
"I had just started finding my groove [before the break]," he said. "I felt like the days off was a little excessive, but at the same time, I know we have to keep other guys on rest. So be it. We'll look to be a little bit better next time out, and be a little bit more crisp."
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.