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Marlins Take On Astros In Houston

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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston manager Bo Porter hasn’t shown much concern over Dallas Keuchel’s recent struggles.

Another rough outing may have Porter rethinking his stance.

Keuchel looks to snap out of his funk Friday night against the Miami Marlins as the Astros begin their longest homestand of the season.

Keuchel (9-6, 3.29 ERA) began his third big-league season impressively, going 8-3 with a 2.38 ERA through his first 13 starts before missing out in the AL fan vote for the final All-Star spot.

He hasn’t been nearly as effective since then, going 1-3 with a 6.07 ERA over his last five outings. The left-hander allowed at least four runs in all of them, including Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox as he gave up 12 hits in five innings.

Porter took that outing in stride and has continued to support Keuchel, who overall has been the best pitcher on Houston’s staff.

“When you pitch as well as he was pitching during that stretch in which he was unbelievable, throughout the course of the 33-some-odd starts, you’re going to have some starts when you’re not going to have your best stuff,” Porter told MLB’s official website. “You’re going to have some games in which you give it up.”

Friday begins a 10-game homestand for the Astros (42-60), but the staff has posted a 7.50 ERA while dropping five of six at Minute Maid Park. Houston has lost five of seven overall, with the starters holding a 6.75 ERA in that stretch.

The offense managed only six hits in Thursday’s 13-1 loss to Oakland, with Chris Carter hitting his 20th homer of the season. Carter has been one of the club’s few bright spots recently, hitting .352 with seven homers and 15 RBIs over his last 14.

“This guy can get hot with the best of them, and when he’s hot, he can carry a ballclub,” Porter said. “He’s on one of those hot streaks right now, and he’s swinging the bat well, and we’re going to try to ride it as long as we possibly can.”

Miami (48-53) is riding a hot stretch of its own, beating Atlanta 3-2 on Thursday for its fourth victory in five games. Casey McGehee went 0 for 4 for the third straight day after hitting safely in 22 of 23 games, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth.

The Marlins look to keep rolling behind Brad Hand, who picked up his first victory of the season Sunday by allowing two runs in seven innings of a 3-2 win over San Francisco.

Hand (1-2, 4.86) has a 3.22 ERA in four starts since being recalled from the minors July 3. He mostly came out of Miami’s bullpen through the first two months of the season but says he feels more comfortable starting.

“I was in the bullpen, not throwing very often,” Hand said. “It’s a role I had never been in. I had always been a starter. I got back into my routine, and what I’m comfortable doing, throwing every fifth day with my bullpens in between. I really got a chance to kind of sharpen everything back up.”

The left-hander’s only start against the Astros was July 7, 2011, when he allowed two hits over seven innings of a 5-0 win.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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