Silent Night In 1-0 Loss
Astros Remain 3-1/2 Up In AL West

Duffy: Scoreless six
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Rosell Herrera did not have to hit a triple in the top of the ninth inning to drive in Adalberto Mondesi with the only run of the game in Kansas City's 1-0 shutout of the Astros Friday night. A simple single off Ken Giles would have done the job. But Herrera struck a laser that reached the center field fence on the line while Mondesi scored easily and Herrera motored into third.

After going 10-0 on the road, the Astros are now 2-2 on a homestand of the lowly Rays and Royals.

Can't blame the loss on Dallas Keuchel who tossed his second consecutive fine start. Keuchel gave up six hits and two walks while pitching six shutout innings. If he returns to the form most expected when the season began, this becomes a rotation no opposing ball club wants to see.

Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon both threw a scoreless inning although Rondon needed a strikeout with the bases full to get out of his own jam in the eighth.

Then came Giles. Mondesi led off the ninth with a single, stole second and took third on a fly out before Herrera smashed his game-winner.

Danny Duffy entered Friday's game with 3-7 mark and a 5.55 ERA but he's a lefty and we all know how the Astros have this intermittent thing about facing lefties. Duffy also left after six innings allowing two hits and four walks. His bullpen was a little bit better and was capped off by lefty sidewinder Tim Hill's first big league save.

To be fair, Alex Bregman was robbed of a homer in the eighth when Herrera made a leaping grab in front of the right field seats. Otherwise, two hits was all Astro fans had to cheer for.

Since the Red Sox put up two touchdowns on the Mariners, Houston's 3-1/2 game lead in the AL West still stands despite the defeat. The middle game of the series comes Saturday night at Minute Maid when Lance McCullers (8-3) takes the hill for the Astros against Ian Kennedy (1-7) in a 6:15 pm Central contest.

-Bob Hulsey