BALTIMORE — Two lamentable pitches ruined an otherwise impressive outing by Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel (6-1) came in with a 1.67 ERA and had won three straight starts. The left-hander allowed just one home run in nine appearances this season before Joseph connected in the second inning and Pearce went deep in the seventh.
That was the extent of the Orioles' offense. Baltimore didn't strand a runner, never got one in scoring position and sent just three batters to the plate in six of eight innings.
"They took advantage of every opportunity they had, which weren't many," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Two pitches up. Timely hitting for them."
Keuchel struck out three and walked one over eight innings in his first complete game of 2015 and seventh of his career.
"Every starter that goes out wants to try to win. He's no exception," Hinch said. "That's the first blemish on a record that's been really awesome this year."
Keuchel had been unbeaten since Aug. 21, 2014. Since that time, he was 8-0 with a 1.58 ERA — until Monday.
"To beat a good pitcher like him, it's really a challenge," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But in order to beat him, you have to pitch well. That's what our four guys did."
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen allowed three runs and 11 hits in five innings. Only once before had the left-hander allowed more hits in a game, but he kept the damage to a minimum by repeatedly working out of jams.
"They had their pops at Wei-Yin, but he held them when he had to," Showalter said.
George Springer had a season-high three hits and a homer for the Astros, who stranded seven and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Keuchel retired 11 straight batters until the seventh, when Delmon Young singled with one out and Pearce drove a two-seam fastball over the wall in right-center to erase a 3-2 deficit.
"Pearce's first-pitch home run, that was impressive just because nobody really puts a swing on that pitch," Keuchel said. "I've never seen one this season like that."
Houston got singles from the first two batters in both the first and second innings but could not score.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the second when Young singled and Joseph hit a drive that barely cleared the left-field wall, only the second homer allowed by Keuchel in 66 innings.
Springer led off the third with his seventh home run, the first in 33 at-bats.
The Astros squandered several scoring opportunities before the fifth inning, when Chris Carter hit a two-out, opposite-field bloop single to right field that brought in two runs for a 3-2 lead.
Before the game, Major League Baseball announced that Orioles left-handed reliever Brian Matusz had been suspended eight games for using a foreign substance in Saturday night's game against Miami. Matusz appealed the punishment and will be allowed to play until the hearing.
HOT AND NOT
Astros: Springer is 10 for 23 in his past six games to raise his batting average from .185 to .224
Orioles: Adam Jones went hitless in three at-bats Monday and is 3 for 22 over his past five games. Jones is batting .315 on the season.
Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer (blister on left index finger) will begin a rehabilitation assignment in the next four or five days, Hinch said. ... RHP Sam Deduno (lower back strain) will throw in the bullpen on Tuesday and could start a rehab assignment later in the week.
Astros: Former Oriole Scott Feldman (3-4) makes his 10th start of the season Tuesday night. He went 5-6 with Baltimore in 2013.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (2-6, 6.10 ERA) seeks his first win in six starts since April 18.
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.