CLEVELAND -- The cards were seemingly stacked against the Astros on Tuesday night. Last year's American League Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, was scratched from his scheduled start, forcing Houston to use a patchwork pitching staff opposite Tribe ace Corey Kluber.
The Astros made it work in a 4-3 win, in which Brad Peacock turned in an admirable effort -- although abbreviated -- while Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Bregman did the heavy lifting on offense. Kluber flinched only briefly, but it was just enough to allow Houston to deal the '14 AL Cy Young winner his first loss since July 3.
"A good team win," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had to piece it together with Peacock going, really, on two days' rest after a relief outing. He wasn't going to go extremely far; I wanted him to go as long as he could and be as good as he could, and he turned in a nice performance, and the bullpen pieced it together. We had a little bit of flurry at the end and came out with a one-run win."
Kluber, who has been one of the game's top arms again this season, was charged with four runs on four hits in his seven innings. The right-hander ended with nine strikeouts and three walks, including two that came just prior to a three-run homer by Gonzalez on a hanging curveball in the second. Bregman used a triple to bring one more run in for Houston in the third.
"It was more so the walks than the curve," Kluber said. "I threw a bad curve -- just one of them. The one for the homer, obviously, wasn't a good pitch, but I think the walks were the bigger issue."
Carlos Santana belted his 29th home run in the eighth off Houston's Luke Gregerson. The Indians added a run in the ninth against closer Ken Giles, but that was as far as their comeback bid went.
Cleveland's AL Central lead remained at 4 1/2 games over the Tigers, who lost to the White Sox on Tuesday. The Astros, who are 13-4 in their last 17 games and have won three straight, remained two back for the AL's second Wild Card spot.
"We have been playing good baseball lately, and to beat a pitcher like that is great," Gonzalez said. "It gives us a little confidence for the next game, and we have to keep going."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Two-out rally sets up Marwin: Kluber retired the first five batters he faced before issuing two-out walks to Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus. He got ahead of Gonzalez with two strikes before the Astros first baseman rocketed the next pitch high over the right-field wall for a three-run homer. Per Statcast™, the blast had an exit velocity of 104 mph and traveled 423 feet from home plate. It marked the first three-run homer of the switch-hitter's career.
"I wasn't expecting something like that," Gonzalez (3-for-4) said of the 0-2 pitch from Kluber. "Obviously, he's one of the best pitchers in the game, and he doesn't give it up like that, those two pitches on two strikes. I was lucky to get that pitch and got a good swing on it." More >
Tribe offense stalls: Santana led off the first inning with a single and quickly moved to third on a double to right by Jason Kipnis. Cleveland could not cash in on the promising start, as Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez each flew out in succession to end the inning. That set an unfortunate tone for the Tribe, which finished 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"Obviously that was a big turn of events," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We have second and third and nobody out, don't score, and then they come back with three. That's a big turnaround."
Bullpen holds on: Making only his second start in the big leagues since 2014, Peacock needed 72 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings, but he held the Indians to one run and five hits while filling in for the ailing Keuchel (shoulder inflammation). The bullpen took it from there, retiring 10 in a row at one point, with James Hoyt throwing 1 1/3 innings for his first big league win and Giles stranding the potential tying run at second for his ninth save.
"Our 'pen did a great job," Hinch said. "You're asking six or seven guys to have good nights, and against a lineup that's very balanced. They have their switch-hitters, they have their left-handed guys, they've got power, they've got a ton of speed. We saw a little bit of all of their strengths tonight. We needed guys to step up and get outs when we needed it." More >
Kluber's streak ends: Heading into Tuesday's game, Kluber had spun 10 straight quality starts, going 7-0 with a 1.94 ERA in that run dating back to July 8. That streak officially came to a close in the third inning, when Bregman delivered his RBI triple. After that, Cleveland's ace held Houston to a 1-for-16 showing.
"He's been great, especially for this playoff run," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "He's been awesome. For me, being behind the plate for him, I've been honored. He's a great pitcher. He's kept us in the ballgame. He's a warrior. He likes to compete. He'll always give you his best." More >
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Dating back to the start of last season, Kluber had not allowed a home run on an 0-2 count to 193 consecutive batters faced in that scenario. That represented the longest such run among Major League pitchers. The streak ended with Gonzalez's home run.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (12-10, 3.91 ERA) will start in Wednesday's 6:10 p.m. CT game against the Indians at Progressive Field. He's 2-4 with a 5.27 ERA in his last eight starts, including two consecutive losses.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (10-7, 3.06 ERA) is slated to take the mound in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game. Over his past six starts, Carrasco has turned in a 2.93 ERA with 56 strikeouts, 39 hits and four walks in 40 innings. He fanned 11 in 7 1/3 shutout innings against Miami on Friday.