- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - Dallas Keuchel isn’t quite ready to say he’s on a roll.

However last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner will acknowledge that he’s starting to feel more like himself than he did during his struggles early this season.

Luis Valbuena hit a solo homer and Colby Rasmus and rookie A.J. Reed added two-run shots in the fourth inning to back up a solid start by Keuchel and give the Houston Astros a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

“It was definitely a good first start after the halfway mark and I know it’s a long season so there was no panic, there was nothing to be mad at except me making some bad pitches,” Keuchel said. “I’d rather finish well than start well so it’s getting there.”

Keuchel (6-9) allowed five hits and two runs in six innings for his season-high third straight win after dropping eight of his previous nine decisions.

“The finish on his pitches was good,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He was throwing his breaking ball where he wanted to. He got some big strikeouts. When you see him with the combination of getting the ball on the ground and also missing some bats that is pretty vintage Dallas Keuchel.”

Will Harris, who was named to his first All-Star team on Tuesday, pitched a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.

The Astros trailed by one in the fourth inning when Rasmus launched his homer off Taijuan Walker (4-7) to the bullpen in right-center field to make it 3-2. Valbuena drew a walk before, with two outs and two strikes, Reed hit his second career homer to left-center to extend it to 5-2.

Walker yielded five hits and five runs before leaving after four innings with discomfort in his right foot. It’s his third start that has been shortened because of this problem. He left early on June 14 and June 19 because of his foot.

“After the second inning, I had no legs. Everything was up,” Walker said. “Everything was running back to the plate. I just couldn’t drive it in there. It’s frustrating because I don’t know what I can do to make it better yet.”

Nelson Cruz homered for the Mariners, who dropped their second straight to Houston.

The three home runs Walker allowed tied a career-high and all were by left-handers. He’s been plagued by homers by lefties this season and 13 of the 18 homers he has allowed have been to them.

Dae-Ho Lee singled with one out in the second before a double by Kyle Seager. The Mariners took a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Chris Iannetta.

Valbuena’s homer, which landed in the second deck in right field, came with two outs in the bottom of the inning to tie it at 1-all.

Cruz’s 22nd home run gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.

He was shaken up in the sixth inning when he fouled a ball off his left foot and leg. He limped around the plate for a couple of minutes while talking to Mariners manager Scott Servais and a trainer before staying in the game to finish his at-bat.

HOT IN HERE

The air conditioning in Minute Maid Park was off for about three innings on Tuesday night because of a power outage outside of the building. It had been off for a bit when the team’s official Twitter account announced the problem at about 9 p.m. with the temperature outside the ballpark a balmy 86 degrees. Many people could be seen fanning themselves with their hands or pieces of paper as the temperature in the domed ballpark began to rise. Another tweet came in the eighth inning saying the problem was fixed and the air conditioning was back on.

“Oh yeah, it was hot. But I didn’t mind it,” Rasmus said. “I needed to get a good sweat in anyway.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez will throw a simulated game Wednesday. Servais said Hernandez will throw 45 pitches. Hernandez has been on the DL with a strained right calf since June 1.

UP NEXT

Mariners: Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 1.50) will make his third start of the season on Wednesday. LeBlanc allowed three hits and two runs in six innings of a 5-2 win over Baltimore in his last start.

Astros: Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.12) is scheduled to start for Houston on Wednesday. Fiers has won three straight and has pitched 14 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings at home.

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