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Keuchel's Strong Outing Helps Astros Top Jays

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[April 11, 2014]  TORONTO  Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is tough on the Toronto Blue Jays.

He has pitched seven innings in each of his three career starts against them.

And when Houston left fielder Robbie Grossman, shortstop Jonathan Villar and catcher Jose Castro hit home runs on Thursday night, it gave Keuchel his first win of the season.

The Astros survived Toronto's three-run ninth inning for a 6-4 victory to salvage the finale of the three-game series and snap a three-game losing streak.

"Keuchel was outstanding," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He really showed it tonight against a really good hitting lineup. He was outstanding. He did a really good job of attacking the strike zone."

Keuchel (1-1) held the Blue Jays to five hits, two walks and one run while striking out six in seven innings.

"He shut us down pretty good in spring training," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I like the guy. He's a pretty good pitcher. He moves the ball around pretty good. Those guys like that give us trouble. He's a strike thrower for the most part. Those guys who have a little finesse and a little command, they have a tendency to give us problems."


Toronto right-hander R.A. Dickey (1-2) thought that he had a good knuckleball, but he allowed six hits, including two homers, three walks and five runs in seven innings.

"It's a real surprise when I have a knuckleball like that and we have the outcome that we had," Dickey said. "I had really good command of it early on. It was moving so much, it felt great out of my hand. We had a couple of hiccups. It happened really quickly. It's not like things were spiralling out of control."

Center fielder Colby Rasmus homered for the Blue Jays (5-5), who finished a six-game homestand at 3-3 and play their next nine games on the road. The Astros (4-6) are 1-2 halfway through a six-game trip.

"I felt good. It was fun facing Dickey because any time you face a former Cy Young Award winner he's going to bring his A game," Keuchel said. "It was fun right off the bat and I came out lucky. I knew if I could attack the zone early, they would be swinging because they have seen me a few times. I was just trying to come after everybody.

"The two-seamer had late life ... that was a big pitch for me. Also the cutter in and the high fastball to righties was keeping them off balance."

The Astros scored three runs in the seventh on the second home run of the season by Villar, who connected on the first pitch. It followed a one-out double to right by third baseman Matt Dominguez and a walk to Grossman.

Castro led off the eighth with his second homer of the season, against right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers.

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Right-hander Chad Qualls pitched the eighth for Houston. Right-hander Josh Fields gave up a two-run double to pinch-hitter Adam Lind with two out in the ninth before being replaced by right-hander Anthony Bass, whose error allowed another run to score. Bass picked up his first save of the season.

Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera led off the home first with a double to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 10 games. Second baseman Maicer Izturis sacrificed him to third, but right fielder Jose Bautista and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion could not bring him home.

The Astros scored twice in the fifth. First baseman Marc Krauss led off with a double and took third on a groundout. Grossman then hit a 3-0 pitch for his first homer of the season.

Former major-league knuckleball pitcher Steve Sparks, an Astros broadcaster, threw batting practice before the game.

"I have to give credit to Sparksie on that," Grossman said. "I took 15 to 20 swings against Sparks in the indoor cage. Just seeing it, because you never see it. Just to get a look at all."

Rasmus hit his first homer of the season on the first pitch with one out in the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1. Catcher Josh Thole followed with a single, and the inning ended when the Blue Jays lost a challenge after Cabrera was called out at first on a grounder.

NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Steve Delabar, who left Wednesday's 7-3 win over the Astros in the ninth after being hit on the right calf by a line drive, was listed as day to day. X-rays were negative. ... Astros RHP Jerome Williams (right groin strain) left Wednesday's game in the sixth inning and was listed as day to day. "We don't know if he'll be able to rebound quickly or whether it's going to take some time," manager Bo Porter said. ... The Astros visit the Texas Rangers for three-game series that starts Friday. Houston RHP Scott Feldman (2-0, 0.66 ERA) faces Texas RHP Yu Darvish (1-0, 0.00) in the opener. ... The Blue Jays visit Baltimore for a three-game series starting Friday, when RHP Dustin McGowan (0-1, 13.50) will face Orioles RHP Chris Tillman (1-0, 1.35).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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