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Astros bullpen fails after Keuchel's strong debut

Associated Press Published: June 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas Keuchel pitched well in his major league debut for Houston, leaving with a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning. The Astros' bullpen couldn't hold it.

Ian Kinsler had a three-run triple and Adrian Beltre hit a two-run homer in Texas' seven-run sixth, leading the Rangers to a 9-3 win over the Astros on Sunday. Houston lost its third straight and fifth in the last six.

Keuchel gave up four hits and four walks in five-plus innings, working out of two-out jams in the third and fourth innings. He was replaced by reliever Fernando Rodriguez after giving up a leadoff single to Nelson Cruz in the sixth.

"Any time a guy can come in and do what he did in his first major league start, it's a success," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He had the bases loaded in the third and the fourth and he walked four guys, but he battled through it. He made pitches when he had to."

Keuchel, selected in the seventh round of the 2009 draft from the University of Arkansas, was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday.

Carlos Lee, in his first game back after missing time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, went 2 for 4 with two RBIs as the Astros' designated hitter.

Texas sent 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth and took advantage of four walks by Rodriguez (1-7).

He started off by walking Mike Napoli and — after a sacrifice advanced the runners — Craig Gentry to load the bases. Kinsler followed with his bases-clearing triple.

After Elvis Andrus walked, Michael Young singled off David Carpenter to drive in Kinsler, and Andrus scored when right fielder Brian Bogusevic was slow getting the ball back to the infield. Beltre followed with his two-run shot into the left-field seats.

Rangers starter Colby Lewis (6-5) gave up three hits and struck out 10 in seven innings to win his second straight outing.

"He was outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Lewis. "We (had) opportunities earlier against (Keuchel) . the kid made some pitches.

"But Colby stayed steadfast and kept us around."

His only walk, with one out in the fifth to Jason Castro, was followed by a two-base wild pitch. Matt Downs then blooped a single over a drawn-in infield on the right side to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Lewis followed by retiring the last eight batters he faced.

"Try to pound the strike zone and get some quick outs . that's my M.O.," said Lewis, who threw only 92 pitches. "Overall, it was a good day. I was able to hang around for the offense to put up a big number."

The right-hander got into a bind in the second with runners on first and third with no outs after giving up leadoff singles to Lee and Bogusevic. He followed, though, by striking out Justin Maxwell and Castro and then got an inning-ending grounder from Downs.

"A ballclub like this, if you give them a little crack they're able to come through with a big inning," Mills said. "Even then, we were a strike away."

The Rangers won for the sixth time in seven games after limping into June with injuries and losing six of 10 on a road trip to start the month.

Andrus had an RBI single in the seventh to make it 8-1.

After Lee's two-run single in the eighth, Yorvit Torrealba's added run-scoring grounder in the bottom of the inning.

Kinsler had two hits and went 4 for 9 the last two games after an 0-for-14 stretch. He began the day hitting .227 in his previous 18 games.

"You have to keep grinding, keep putting the pressure on them and something good happens," Washington said. "Today it was Kinsler. You just have to keep grinding."

Beltre, who also singled in the eighth, has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games.

NOTES: Houston relievers had not allowed an inherited runner to score this season, stranding 16 before Cruz scored in the sixth. ... Houston pitching coach Doug Brocail was ejected in the top of the ninth inning — with his team batting — after charging out of the dugout to argue with home-plate umpire Dale Scott.


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