- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - Vincent Velasquez couldn’t stay zero and zero forever.

For the first time in his brief major league career he felt the sting of defeat.

Velasquez allowed just two runs but the rookie lost for the first time as Houston’s lineup was stifled by Corey Kluber and the Astros were beaten 2-0 on Tuesday night by the Cleveland Indians.

Kluber (4-9) pitched five-hit ball into the seventh inning and finally won for the first time since May 28. Michael Brantley homered as the Indians snapped a three-game losing streak.

Velasquez (0-1) was the pitcher of record for the first time in his sixth career start. He joins Hideo Nomo (1995), Marc Valdez (1995-96) and Chris Brock (1997) as the only pitchers in history to begin their careers with five starts without a decision. The right-hander gave up only six hits in 6 1-3 innings and struck out five, but didn’t get any help from Houston’s offense.

“At least I got a decision today,” Velasquez said with a smile. “It’s not something I want, but I’m settling in just fine. I felt like I could go seven today. I am feeling comfortable.”

But the Astros are taking a cautious approach with the talented 23-year-old. Following the game, they optioned him to Double-A Corpus Christi to get some rest during the All-Star break. Velasquez likely won’t pitch while he’s in the minors and is expected to be called up after the break.

“It’s not pleasant news, but they’re looking out for me and we’ll go from there,” Velasquez said. “I think I’ll be refreshed for the second half.”

To fill his roster spot, the Astros will recall left-hander Brett Oberholtzer from Triple-A Fresno. He will start Thursday against the Indians.

Despite pitching well enough to win, Kluber (4-9) went 0-4 with two no-decisions in his previous six starts. But the defending AL Cy Young winner was on his game against the Astros, who managed just five singles and only got one runner to third base.

“We had good at-bats most of the night against a really good pitcher, but nothing to show for it,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We had a small margin for error against Kluber, turned out to be no margin. We couldn’t solve him.”

Zach McAllister finished the seventh, worked the eighth and Bryan Shaw finished up for his second save.

Brantley homered in the sixth off Velasquez, who has gone exactly 6 1-3 innings in each of his past three starts. The Astros have been impressed with Velasquez and don’t want to push him too hard.

“We know he’s a part of what we’re doing and we’re expecting to see him again,” Hinch said. “We’re going to give him a little bit of a mental and physical blow for the time being and resort it out after the break and see how things slot into the rotation.”

Kluber came in receiving the second-lowest run support average (2.43 runs) in the majors, but did all he could to make the two runs he got on Tuesday stand up, throwing 6 2-3 quality innings.

He also received a major boost from his defense in the sixth while clinging to a 1-0 lead. First, center fielder Michael Bourn raced into the gap in right-center to make a lunging catch on Preston Tucker’s liner. Then, rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor made a spinning stop on a hard grounder before throwing to first where Carlos Santana made a nice scoop to nip Carlos Correa at first.


Astros 2B Jose Altuve went 0 for 4 and had his hitting streak stopped at 14 games. It was the longest streak of the All-Star’s career.


The Astros dropped to 5-14 against the Indians since moving to the American League in 2013.


Astros: 3B Luis Valbuena (sprained left big toe) was not in the starting lineup for the second straight day, but manager A.J. Hinch said the team’s leading home-run hitter could face his former team before Houston leaves town. Valbuena, who spent three seasons with Cleveland, has 19 homers - 12 in his last 44 games.


Astros: RHP Dan Straily makes his first start this season after being recalled from the minors last week. The 26-year-old, acquired in an offseason trade from the Cubs, allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings in a relief appearance against Boston on Friday.

Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer pitched six hitless innings against Houston in his season debut on April 9. He’s 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two career appearances versus the Astros.

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