Keuchel's return to rotation doesn't go as planned

Keuchel's return to rotation doesn't go as planned

Keuchel's return to rotation doesn't go as planned
PHOENIX -- It wasn't supposed to be this way for Dallas Keuchel.

Keuchel was the odd man out when the club went to a five-man rotation after the All-Star break. Saturday was to be his opportunity to shine, his chance to prove that he belonged.

But Arizona racked up seven hits off the young left-hander, and the result was a 12-3 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field. The loss was the fifth in a row and 18th in the last 20 games for the Astros.

Saturday was supposed to be the day Keuchel would remind everyone about his 2.45 ERA in his first four big league starts. It would be the day he'd get people talking about his splendid complete game against the Indians for his first career victory about a month ago and get them excited about many more victories to come.

That was the plan, anyway.

In the end, he was tagged with seven runs, six earned, in only 3 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked four in the loss.

The beginning wasn't much better.

"My command was down and away with the sinker. It was poor, to say the least," Keuchel said. "I made some mistakes with pitches over the plate, and they hurt me."

In the first inning, Keuchel walked second baseman Aaron Hill on seven pitches with one out and gave up a two-run homer to Jason Kubel -- the first of three home runs on the night for the left fielder -- to give the home team a two-run lead.

D-backs starter Wade Miley did his part, shutting down the Astros' offense for the first three innings until Justin Maxwell led off the fourth inning with a double. The center fielder eventually scored on a single by Chris Johnson to cut the D-backs' lead to one run.

Maxwell added an RBI single in the eighth, and Carlos Corporan plated a run in the ninth, but that was all the Astros would get.

D-backs' center fielder Chris Young led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, and Keuchel walked the next batter, Ryan Roberts, on four pitches. Miley followed with a sacrifice bunt that Keuchel fielded cleanly, but he threw wildly to first base, loading the bases with no outs for leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist.

Bloomquist's sacrifice fly scored Young for the home team's third run, and Hill's RBI single gave Arizona a three-run lead. Kubel's second home run, a three-run shot to right field, ended Keuchel's night with the D-backs ahead, 7-1.

"I thought when we didn't get an out on that bunt in the fourth inning, when the ball pulled him off the bag. ... The next guy hit a sac fly -- that would have been two outs, and maybe we could have got out of the inning," manager Brad Mills said. "That was a big play."

Keuchel's replacement, Fernando Rodriguez, didn't fare much better, giving up a two-run single to Bloomquist for an eight-run lead in the fifth. Kubel's third homer, this one off Enerio Del Rosario in the sixth, made the score 10-1.

"I didn't really establish myself throwing strikes, and they were patient," Keuchel said. "Kubel got me twice. His first at-bat, it was 2-2, and I wanted to elevate and get it out of the zone. I left it a little bit on top of the zone, and he put a good swing on it. I tried to battle, but I didn't come out on the good side tonight. I have five more days to get ready."

The Astros walked eight batters in the loss. The pitching staff walked six in Friday's 13-8 defeat, and all six scored.

Keuchel has walked four in four of his five outings this season.

"[Keuchel] has thrown some real good games against some real good-hitting teams," Mills said. "That's the thing, you just kind of wonder if today his command just wasn't quite as good, and the feel on his off-speed stuff was not quite as good, but he's had some success doing that."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.