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Royals' bats stay silent in rematch with Astros
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Royals fall to Houston, 4-0 - photo by

HOUSTON— Auditioning for the starting nod in the All-Star Game in front of American League manager Ned Yost, ace Dallas Keuchel fired eight shutout innings and got just enough run support from George Springer’s two-run homer off the foul pole in the third inning as the Astros secured a series win with a 4-0 win over the Royals on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Jose Altuve added a run-scoring double in the fifth, but by then, Keuchel was well on his way to his 10th win of the season. Now a 10-game winner in back-to-back seasons, Keuchel worked around two doubles in the first two innings to strand six and strike out seven. The lefty is now the first Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt in 2005 to win 10 games before the All-Star break.

“Early on I had some pretty good sink and late life,” Keuchel said. “Just roll with that and then later on it was a changeup and slider. With a few [strikeouts] with that and I mean I was trying to force some early contact. I know they like to swing the bat and just try to use it to my advantage.”

“Deep down inside there’s always a little bit of interest that’s piqued when things like that are brought up but it’s not a huge motivation for him,” added manager A.J. Hinch, when asked whether pitching in front of Yost fires up Keuchel. “He gets after it every five days and I think that he does that trying to be the best more than trying to accomplish anything outside of a win.”

Lorenzo Cain was a two-out mystery to Keuchel, going 3-for-4 with three two-out hits, but the rest of his Kansas City lineup mustered only four hits off the Houston starter. Royals starter Danny Duffy faced the minimum through his first 2 2/3 innings, but he allowed an 0-2 single to nine-hole hitter Marwin Gonzalez in the third before Springer launched his homer in the next at-bat.

“I was really pleased with the effort and focus most of the game, they just hit a couple mistakes,” Duffy said. “But I think I was most upset about hanging that slider to their nine-hole batter [Gonzalez] and it came back to hurt me ... with maybe the best hitter [Springer] on that team.”