ARLINGTON -- Dallas Keuchel outdueled Rangers starter Andrew Cashner and pitched the Astros to a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon, snapping their five-game losing streak. The Rangers had a three-game winning streak come to an end but still took two of three from the Astros.
Keuchel, making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, earned his first victory since June 2 by holding the Rangers to one run in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits, walked three and struck out seven. It was the first quality start by an opposing pitcher against the Rangers in their last 13 games.
Keuchel (10-2, 2.77 ERA) was 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in his first three starts off the DL.
"It's amazing how many people start freaking out when you don't have a couple of good starts, or the world's ending or you're not any good anymore," Keuchel said. "... You stay the course and that's what you do if you want to last in this game."
The Astros maintained their 12-game lead over the Angels in the American League West. The Rangers fell 3 1/2 games behind the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Astros closer Ken Giles earned a six-out save by pitching the eighth and ninth innings, striking out Delino DeShields to end the game and strand the potential tying run on base.
"The 27th out was about as good as it gets, to get to the finish line with a win," Astros manager A.J. HInch said. "We've won so many games this year, it's funny how you really feel like you need one. Obviously, it's been a bad week for us, results-wise. It's a pretty hard-fought win."
Cashner, who was scratched from his last start with neck stiffness, had a personal three-game winning streak come to an end despite allowing just two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out four.
"We had some opportunities in that game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I thought Cash threw the ball extremely well. I feel good about how our guys played and the effort. Is it disappointing not to finish off the third game? It's challenging to sweep a series. We came up short in a 2-1 game, but there are a lot of tremendous takeaways from this game and this series moving forward."
The Astros took a 1-0 lead on Jose Altuve's 18th home run with one out in the fourth. The Rangers tied it up in the sixth on Adrian Beltre's home run leading off the inning.
The Astros went back on top in the seventh. Yuli Gurriel led off with a drive to deep center and Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez raced to the wall. He leaped to try to make the catch and just missed as the ball hit off the wall for a double. Gurriel went to third on Marwin Gonzalez's grounder to first and scored the go-ahead run on Carlos Beltran's single to left.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Giles thwarts Rangers' rally: Walks by Nomar Mazara and Beltre off reliever Chris Devenski opened the eighth for the Rangers, putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base. After Giles came in to pitch, Gomez bunted the runners to second and third. That brought up Joey Gallo, and Drew Robinson pinch-ran for Beltre at second. Gallo scorched a line drive, but right to Gurriel. He made the catch and then doubled off Robinson at second base to end the inning.
"Once he got a good piece of that slider, I was like, 'I hope it goes right to somebody,'" Giles said. "Luckily it did, and Yuli took his time to make that double play, which was huge." More >
DeShields' spectacular catch: DeShields saved Cashner deep trouble with Beltran on first and one out in the fifth. Derek Fisher launched a high drive deep down the left-field line, and DeShields raced over to make a terrific diving catch. Beltran was all the way around second base when the catch was made and forgot to retouch the bag on his way back to first. The Rangers were able to double him up to end the inning.
"Off the bat, I didn't think I was going to get to it," DeShields said. "I just trusted my legs and got there better than I thought. Just instincts."
Beltre's baserunning blunder: After Mazara led off the fourth inning with a single, Beltre smacked a base hit to right. Mazara went to third on the play, but Beltre rounded too far off first and was caught in a rundown when right fielder Josh Reddick threw behind him. Beltre was tagged out in the rundown, and Mazara ended up being stranded when Gomez grounded out to third and Gallo struck out. More >
"I think it was just so hot, we didn't want to be out there very long. I think once the fifth came around, I was really like, 'Wow.' My face kept getting a little bit redder and redder. The humidity is unreal." -- Cashner, on pitching in the Texas heat
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Gurriel set an Astros single-season rookie record with his 31st double.
Banister was ejected in the fifth after Cashner hit Gonzalez with a pitch. Home-plate umpire Stu Scheurwater issued a warning to both sides since there were five hit-by-pitches in Saturday's game. Banister went out to complain to first-base umpire Tripp Gibson and he was ejected for the fifth time this season.
"Quite puzzling really," Banister said. "The plate umpire gave warnings and I tried to get an explanation why the warnings were handed out. I never got an explanation -- something about the league giving them a heads-up prior to the series based on two months ago. I tried to have a conversation with the home-plate umpire, but the base umpire decided to get engaged. I don't care what anybody says. I wasn't arguing. I was trying to get an explanation and was puzzled."
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh pitches for the Astros against the D-backs at 8:40 p.m. CT on Monday at Chase Field. This is the first of four Interleague games between the two teams. The first two will be at Chase Field and then the two teams move to Minute Maid Park on Wednesday and Thursday.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches against the Tigers at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. Perez snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Mets on Wednesday, allowing one run in eight innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in four career games against the Tigers.