HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch showed confidence in his ace to let him finish what he started Thursday night.
"I haven't been here a long time but that's probably as good as I've seen Dallas Keuchel," Hinch said. "The game plan for him is to use his pitches and be aggressive. His ball is moving all over the place tonight which made them have to be aggressive."
Keuchel (9-3) gave up six singles and walked one while topping his previous best of 11 strikeouts in a shutout over the White Sox on May 30.
"Probably, just based on command and stuff wise," Keuchel said when asked if it was the best he felt. "I got a few pitches early, but they weren't really aggressive early pitch wise. That led to an advantage for me then later in the game, they started hacking. I was able to get all four pitches over, and that was crucial for me. I was also able to calm down."
The left-hander retired 18 of 19 during one stretch, including 15 straight before Alex Rodriguez's single with two outs in the ninth. Mark Texeira then walked prompting a trip to the mound by Hinch.
"I told him finish the game, I want to go home," Hinch said. "I think the game should be over and it was his game to finish. That's exactly what I told him."
Keuchel rebounded from his worst start of the season when he allowed five runs and walked four Saturday at Seattle.
"It seems like division games I get a little too amped up for, and it was very uncharacteristic of me in Seattle," Keuchel said. "I wanted to take a step back and relax a little coming out of the gate and find my groove."
Adam Warren (5-5) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings for the Yankees. The loss was Warren's first in four starts. He has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts.
Preston Tucker's RBI double gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the second.
Colby Rasmus' sacrifice fly scored Altuve to stretch the Astros' lead to 2-0 in the fourth.
Chris Young and Beltran each had two of New York's six hits as the Yankees lost for the fourth time in five games.
"Well he stays down in the zone, he's using the corners, and he's using the zone," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Keuchel. "He attacks, he's ahead all night. He wasn't behind in too many counts. We got a few hits but we never put anything together. We hit a couple balls hard foul. He pitched well."
Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, out since May 19 with a sprained right knee, is improving and Girardi hopes that he can return sometime during this road trip which ends July 1. "We need to get him to run 100 percent before we feel comfortable sending him out on a short rehab," Girardi said. "You want to see him turn it loose and be able to feel good the next day and say ... there are no issues."
Astros: RHP Scott Feldman, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on May 29, threw off the mound on Thursday in a bullpen session. "He's making steady progress," Hinch said. "From all indications from the medical staff, he's step by step doing better." Feldman's recovery is expected to take about six weeks."
Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-2) will start the second game of the series against the Astros looking to set a career-high with his seventh win this season.
Astros: RHP Vince Velasquez is still looking for his first career win after three straight no-decisions. Velasquez only allowed a run in his last start but lasted just 3 1/3 innings after throwing 93 pitches.
A-ROD LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING CORREA
Rodriguez was looking forward to getting a good look at Houston rookie shortstop Carlos Correa during this series. Correa, who was the top overall pick in the 2012 draft, is often compared to Rodriguez. He hoped to get to spend some time with Correa, and reminisced about meeting a star shortstop when he was a young player.
"I remember clearly when I broke into the league and we played against the Baltimore Orioles and (meeting) Cal Ripken and to me as an 18-year-old that was one of the biggest thrills of my life," Rodriguez said. "I had a chance to have a little meet and greet with him for 10 minutes ... before batting practice at the old Kingdome and to me that's still one of the 10 minutes that I cherish."
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