It took until September but Dallas Keuchel is finally on the plus side of the win-loss record. After starting the year 0-3 and falling at one point to 3-8, Keuchel finally succeeded on his fourth try to climb above .500 as he wrested a 4-1 victory over Minnesota on Monday in a Labor Day afternoon special. The Twins had twice as many hits as Houston (8-4) yet the Astros made theirs count, especially early.
Bregman: Bat still en fuego
(c) Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle
Alex Bregman went deep for the third game in a row, a solo shot to the Crawfords in the first off Kyle Gibson to open the scoring. Brian McCann singled into the right field corner in the second that scored Tyler White than a double-play grounder by Evan Gattis plated Yuli Gurriel to stretch the lead to 3-0. Gurriel smashed a home run over the Crawfords in the fourth for a 4-0 lead.
Keuchel, meanwhile, gave up a run in the sixth and allowed five hits over six frames in getting his 11th victory against 10 losses. In his last 15 starts, Keuchel is 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA.
The Twins had some opportunities to put up crooked numbers but never could get the key hit they needed. Even in the ninth, they loaded the bases before Brad Peacock struck out Miguel Sano for the final out to get just his third save. Relievers Roberto Osuna, Joe Smith and Ryan Pressly were ruled out of Monday's game due to their heavy workload this homestand.
Second baseman Jose Altuve sat out Monday's game but it was a planned off day to rest his slumping bat (.250 since returning from the DL). Reliever Hector Rondon left after one batter - when he was struck by a comebacker to his right hand. X-rays were negative but Rondon is likely out for the rest of the series, according to Manager A.J. Hinch.
While Houston was hosting the Twins, Oakland was hosting the Yankees yet the Athletics took the series opener, 6-3, so the Astros' lead in the A.L. West remains the same.
Justin Verlander (13-9) will start the middle game Tuesday for Houston as he faces Trevor May (3-0) in a 7:10 pm Central duel. The Astros are 3-0 in September after closing August with a pair of losses.
- Bob Hulsey