- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston starter Dallas Keuchel seemed like two different pitchers on Sunday against the Texas Rangers.

Keuchel (10-8) breezed through a hitless first three innings, striking out two and forcing six groundouts before falling apart in the next three frames of a 6-2 loss.

Keuchel allowed six hits and a season-high five runs in those second three innings in what was arguably his worst start of the season.

“You definitely can’t be on your game all the time, but I thought the first three innings, I was about as good as I’ve been all season,” Keuchel said. “It’s just very frustrating.”

Keuchel didn’t get much run support as the Rangers snapped a seven-game skid against their in-state rivals.

Nick Martinez got his first win since May 24 and Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo both homered for Texas. Martinez (2-8), who was pitching on five extra days’ rest, allowed five hits and two runs over five innings to end a seven-game losing streak.

The Rangers trailed by two early before scoring twice in both the fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-2 lead. The 393rd homer of Beltre’s career came off Keuchel in the sixth inning and Choo also had a solo shot in the seventh to make it 6-2.

Keuchel entered Sunday’s game having allowed just two earned runs across his previous three starts, a span of 23 innings.

“They (were) just hacking and found some holes,” Keuchel said. “I’m not going to change anything. We just got … whipped (Sunday).”

Jose Altuve had two hits for his 49th multihit game this season. He missed Saturday’s game with a sore neck.

Chris Carter made it 1-0 in the first when he grounded into a force play that scored Robbie Grossman. Carter was initially ruled out on the play, but manager Bo Porter challenged the call and it was overturned.

Altuve added to his American League lead with his 46th steal. Jason Castro’s single drove him in to make it 2-0.

“It was tough,” said Carter, who went 0 for 4. “We didn’t score on opportunities we had in the game.”


Rangers: Alex left the game in the middle of the fourth inning after appearing to aggravate his sprained right ankle sliding into home in the fourth. He had missed the previous two games because of the injury.

Texas manager Ron Washington was encouraged by Derek Holland’s third rehabilitation start at Double-A Frisco on Saturday night. He struck out four in three scoreless innings. Holland, who hasn’t played in the majors this season after left knee surgery, will start for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday night.

Astros: Outfielder George Springer (quadriceps) said he felt OK on Sunday a day after taking batting practice and participating in drills on the field, but he isn’t sure when he’ll be able to come off the disabled list. “It’s more frustrating than anything because I want to play and help,” Springer said. “But … I have to be smart about it.”


Rangers: Colby Lewis starts against Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly in the opener of a four-game series on Monday. Lewis has gone 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break and threw a complete game shutout in his last start.

Astros: Brad Peacock opposes Minnesota left-hander Tommy Milone when the Astros start a three game series with the Twins. Peacock will make his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He struggled in his return to the majors, allowing eight runs in five innings of a 10-3 loss to Philadelphia.

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