DETROIT (AP) — Drew Smyly and the Detroit Tigers finally lost, thanks largely to one of the left-hander’s old friends.
Houston’s Dallas Keuchel outpitched Smyly in a matchup of college roommates, and the Astros beat the Tigers 6-2 on Thursday to snap Detroit’s eight-game winning streak. Keuchel and Smyly were both on the Arkansas team that reached the College World Series in 2009.
“I won’t be talking to him for a while,” Smyly joked. “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.”
Houston ended its five-game losing skid. Keuchel (3-2) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings, and 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. Jose Altuve put the Astros ahead 3-2 with a two-run double later that inning.
“That’s the game right there,” Smyly said. “I felt great, but I let it get away.”
Smyly allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out two and walked three. Keuchel said he didn’t really watch his fellow left-hander during the game.
“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.”
Corporan homered off reliever Evan Reed in the seventh to make it 4-2.
Keuchel struck out seven without a walk. His 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.
“It’s not like Smyly had a bad outing. He allowed three runs and kept us in the game,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Keuchel just pitched an outstanding game. This game is about him. I don’t think we did anything wrong.”
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.
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.”
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).