HOUSTON -- What started out so perfect, ended in a lopsided loss for the Indians Saturday afternoon.
Cleveland starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez was perfect through four innings, but was tagged for four runs in the fifth and the Astros went on to win, 8-1, to even the three-game series at a game apiece before 34,241 at Minute Maid Park.
Gomez was looking to get back into the win column after consecutive losses. He hadn't gone more than five innings in any of his last four starts and was 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA over his last five outings.
Gomez retired the first 12 batters he faced. He struck out three through four innings, got four groundouts and two infield popouts. Only two balls were hit out of the infield, both were flyouts.
The fifth inning proved to be his undoing. Things unraveled quickly. Back-to-back doubles, then consecutive homers from Astros left fielder J.D. Martinez and center fielder Jordan Schafer gave Houston a 4-1 lead.
"He started well and then in the fifth they got to him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He made some mistakes with some offspeed stuff and they hit him around.
"He was very aggressive early with his two-seam fastball and then in [the fifth] inning he left some pitches up -- soft stuff. And then after that, they took advantage. He pitched a good, strong four innings and then hit a wall."
Gomez said he left too many pitches up in the strike zone.
"To Martinez it was just a mistake up," Gomez said. "I got the ball up and they hit it. I tried to get ahead of [Schafer]. I threw a two-seamer outside and he hit it for the opposite [field homer]."
Gomez said he wasn't dwelling on his perfect four innings and what might be.
"I was just thinking of making good pitches down," he said. "That's what I was doing (the first four innings). I didn't miss up; I was throwing my sinker down at the knee, working outside for all hitters."
He said he has no answers for his recent problems.
"I don't know. I feel good in the bullpen before the start," he said. "I try not to make mistakes up in the zone. But it's part of the game, it happens. The good ones come back."
Acta said he hopes to see Gomez become a more consistent pitcher over the long haul.
"That's the name of the game up here," Acta said. "He started the season very well and now he's got more than a handful of starts where he hasn't been very good. It's about being consistent up here. That's all there is to it."
While Gomez looked like the pitcher headed for a special outing, it was Houston's Dallas Keuchel, making just his second career start, who threw a gem. The lefty struggled a bit early, but settled into a groove and was able throw a complete game, earning his first career win.
"I was pretty calm," Keuchel said. "I knew what I had to do. Facing the Rangers right off the bat was a pretty good test. So I know the Indians are a pretty good lineup too, so I knew I had to be careful. So I just had to execute pitches."
Acta said he was impressed with the youngster.
"He pitched very effectively to the arm-side," Acta said. "He just turned the ball over, good sink away from our right-handed hitters and four-seam inside in our lefties and changed speeds very well.
"He did an outstanding job and gave them an opportunity to get their offense in order. All the credit goes to Keuchel. He pounded the strike zone and mixed his pitches very well."
Cleveland leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo said he was impressed with Keuchel's command.
"He changed speed and hit his spots in and out," Choo said. "And then in a hitter's count, he threw offspeed, not middle, but inside, outside."
Choo said he had good information on the rookie pitcher, but that doesn't always translate into successful at-bats.
"What you see in the batter's box is different than what you see on video," he said.
Choo hit a cutter for a double to lead off the ninth inning. It was just the second hit for Cleveland after Asdrubal Cabrera opened the fourth inning with a home run that gave the Indians a short-lived 1-0 lead.
The lefty-heavy Cleveland lineup continued to struggle against left-handed pitching, falling to 5-14 against southpaws this season.
"I never think about that," Choo said. "I just think about [what I have to do]. I think we're getting better [against lefties]."
The loss snapped Cleveland's four-game win streak, but there were a couple of bright spots. Lefty reliever Tony Sipp, who hadn't made an appearance in a week, worked a perfect 1 2/3 innings, striking out two of the four batters he faced.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis collected three of Cleveland's six hits. It was the second time in his career he recorded three hits off of left-handed pitching.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.