AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Dallas Keuchel won this matchup of old college roommates — then admitted he hadn’t paid much attention to his friend-turned-adversary on the mound.
Keuchel outpitched Drew Smyly, and the Houston Astros beat Detroit 6-2 on Thursday to snap the Tigers’ eight-game winning streak. Keuchel and Smyly both pitched for the Arkansas team that reached the College World Series in 2009, but on this day, Keuchel had more important concerns than watching his fellow left-hander throw.
“I honestly didn’t see a single pitch from him,” Keuchel said. “I was in the tunnel. It was kind of hot today for Detroit right now, and I was just trying to stay cool as much as possible.”
Keuchel (3-2) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings, and Houston ended its five-game losing streak. The Astros broke through with three runs in the fifth off Smyly (2-2) to take the lead.
Houston’s George Springer, a first-round draft pick in 2011, hit his first major league homer. Carlos Corporan and Matt Dominguez also went deep for the Astros.
Victor Martinez homered for the Tigers.
Smyly allowed only one hit — an infield single — through the first four innings, but his outing took a turn for the worse in the fifth when Springer lined a one-out solo homer over the wall in right.
“It’s obviously good to hit something hard and to have a great result like that,” said Springer, who planned to give the home run ball to his father. “I didn’t try to do too much — was able to stay on it and hit it hard, and for me that’s a great sign.”
Jose Altuve put the Astros ahead 3-2 with a two-run double later that inning.
Smyly allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out two and walked three.
Corporan homered off reliever Evan Reed in the seventh to make it 4-2.
Keuchel struck out seven without a walk, navigating a tough Detroit lineup without too much difficulty.
“I won’t be talking to him for a while,” Smyly joked. “I thought he’d do OK, but he’s a lefty and with our offense, I thought we’d get to him. He’s a very smart pitcher and he’s a bulldog, and we couldn’t do anything with him. That’s as good as I’ve seen him, and you have to tip your hat.”
Keuchel’s final big test came in the seventh, when Detroit put men on first and third with two out. Keuchel struck out pinch-hitter Torii Hunter to end the inning.
The temperature at game time was 77 degrees, and Keuchel said his decision to ignore Smyly’s pitching was nothing personal.
“On the more humid days, I’ll try to go in and keep cool in between innings, so I don’t usually watch the other pitcher,” he said. “In this case, it was my college roommate, so I’m sure he’ll be mad I didn’t see a few pitches.”
Miguel Cabrera came to the plate in the eighth after Ian Kinsler’s single chased Keuchel, but the best the Detroit slugger could do against reliever Anthony Bass was a soft grounder to second.
Dominguez hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the second on an RBI double by Nick Castellanos. Springer, who came close to preventing a homer by Cabrera the previous night, nearly caught this drive too, but it caromed off the wall in right field.
Martinez hit his seventh homer of the year in the fourth. He finished the day with three hits, extending his hitting streak to 11.
NOTES: Houston OF L.J. Hoes, who entered the game in an 0-for-20 slump, had three singles and scored a run. … The Astros play at Baltimore on Friday night, with RHP Scott Feldman (2-1) scheduled to return after missing time with right biceps tendinitis. Baltimore starts LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2). … Detroit hosts Minnesota, with RHP Justin Verlander (4-1) on the mound against Twins RHP Phil Hughes (3-1).
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