Two mighty swings carry Orioles to 4-3 win over Astros
BALTIMORE — With the exception of two mighty swings, the Baltimore Orioles did very little offensively against Dallas Keuchel.
Baltimore didn't strand a runner and never got one in scoring position. In six of eight innings, the Orioles sent only three batters to the plate.
Yet, thanks to two-run homers by Caleb Joseph and Steve Pearce, the Orioles dealt Keuchel his first loss in a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday.
Keuchel (6-1) came in with a 1.67 ERA and had won three straight starts. The left-hander allowed just one home run in nine appearances this season before Joseph connected in the second inning and Pearce went deep in the seventh.
"I think the game was more about they took advantage of every opportunity they had, which weren't many," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Two pitches up. Timely hitting for them."
Keuchel gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one over eight innings in his first complete game of 2015 and seventh of his career.
"To beat a good pitcher like him, it's really a challenge," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But in order to beat him, you have to pitch well. That's what our four guys did."
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen allowed three runs and 11 hits in five innings. Only once before had the left-hander surrendered more hits in a game, but he kept the damage to a minimum by repeatedly working out of jams.
"They had their pops at Wei-Yin but he held them when he had to," Showalter said.
Brad Brach (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings of relief and Oliver Drake worked a perfect eighth before Zach Britton got three straight outs for his 11th save.
The victory comes after Baltimore dropped two of three against the lowly Marlins.
"Hopefully today is the start of something," Pearce said. "We have a good team, we have a good hitting team. We just haven't had consistency all year. Right now is a good time to get hot as any."
George Springer had a season-high three hits and a homer for the Astros, who stranded seven and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Keuchel retired 11 straight batters until the seventh, when Delmon Young singled with one out and Pearce drove the a two-seam fastball over the wall in right-center to erase a 3-2 deficit.
"Pearce's first-pitch home run, that was impressive just because nobody really puts a swing on that pitch," the lefty said. "I've never seen one this season like that."
The Astros squandered several scoring opportunities until the fifth inning, when Chris Carter hit a two-out, opposite-field bloop single to right field that brought in two runs for a 3-2 lead.
Houston got singles from the first two batters in both the first and second innings but could not score.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the second when Young singled and Joseph hit a drive that barely cleared the left-field wall, only the second homer allowed by Keuchel in 66 innings.
Springer led off the third with his seventh home run, the first in 33 at-bats.
Before the game, Major League Baseball announced that Orioles left-handed reliever Brian Matusz had been suspended eight games for using a foreign substance in Saturday night's game against Miami. Matusz appealed the punishment and will be allowed to play until the hearing.
HOT AND NOT
Astros: Springer is 10 for 23 in his last six games to raise his batting average from .185 to .224
Orioles: Adam Jones went hitless in three at-bats Monday and is 3 for 22 over his last five games. Jones is batting .315 on the season.
Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer (blister on left index finger) will begin a rehabilitation assignment in the next four or five days, Hinch said. ... RHP Sam Deduno (lower back strain) will throw in the bullpen on Tuesday and could start a rehab assignment later in the week.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy left with back tightness, but Showalter hopes he can return Tuesday. ... C Matt Wieters (elbow) will begin his rehab assignment behind the plate at Double-A Bowie on Tuesday. ... RHP Bud Norris (bronchitis) won't pitch in Thursday's DH against Chicago and will instead extend his rehab assignment with Bowie on Wednesday, Showalter said.
Astros: Former Oriole Scott Feldman (3-4) makes his 10th start of the season Tuesday night. He went 5-6 with Baltimore in 2013.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (2-6, 6.10 ERA) seeks his first win in six starts since April 18.