MILWAUKEE -- The homework assignment for rookie pitcher Dallas Keuchel before he makes his next start is pretty basic: Find a way to cut down on the walks.
Keuchel didn't gave himself or the Astros much of a chance to be competitive on Tuesday night by constantly pitching behind in the count, which led to a career-high six walks and some grooved pitches over the plate that the Brewers were happy to capitalize.
The lefty allowed seven runs on seven hits in four innings, giving up a three-run homer to Aramis Ramirez in the third inning that put the Brewers in control and sent them on their way to a 10-1 win over the Astros at Miller Park.
"What was tough was Dallas' command," manager Brad Mills said. "He had six walks in those four innings and was working behind in the count. It's along the same lines as his last outing as well. It's something we're going to work on. We thought we had some things addressed, but we need to kind of go back and readdress those issues."
After going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his first four starts of the season, including a complete-game win over Cleveland on June 23, Keuchel is 0-3 with a 12.15 ERA in his last three starts. Walks have been issue throughout the season, but the situation came to a head on Tuesday.
"It's disappointing," Keuchel said. "In the bullpen I felt good. I told [pitching coach Doug] Brocail, 'I've just got to get back to being smooth and confident and making pitches.' I got ahead of [Norichika] Aoki from the get-go and left a changeup down the middle, but I was battling all night long. [I'd] just like to cut the walks down and get back to pitching like I did the first four starts up here."
Keuchel issued all six of his walks in his first three innings, giving up a run in the first and second frames before Ramirez launched his three-run homer to make it 5-1.
"I was walking everybody, but I kind of calmed the storm a little bit there with double-play balls, but the three-run homer to Ramirez pretty much sealed the deal," Keuchel said.
Keuchel pitched a 1-2-3 fourth but was pulled after allowing a pair of singles to start the fifth. Corey Hart then launched a three-run blast off reliever Chuckie Fick to stretch the lead to seven runs.
"I'm just going to go back to watching my first four starts, and hopefully we can get this thing figured out," Keuchel said. "I don't think it's anything too major. I ran into a couple of rough road starts in Triple-A in Reno and Colorado Springs where I got hit around pretty hard. It was a little bit mechanical and I figured it out, so I think we'll be all right."
The damage in the first three innings could have been much worse had the Astros not turned three inning-ending double plays, with shortstop Marwin Gonzalez putting on a defensive clinic. Houston wound up with four double plays.
"Those double plays kept [Keuchel] around and kept us fairly close with at least a chance to climb back into it," Mills said.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo continued his domination of the Astros by allowing just three hits, one walk and one run in seven innings to improve to 12-2 in 14 career starts against Houston. He's 9-0 with a 2.68 ERA in his last nine starts against the Astros.
"Yo's stuff was really good today, even in the first inning," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "His command was a little off, but his stuff was really good. And then all of a sudden, probably the third inning on, [his] command got great. That's when Yo usually gets in that roll and [his] rhythm's good, [he] executes all pitches. His curveball was outstanding today, so that was a good outing for him."
Chris Snyder plated the Astros' only run with a homer off Gallardo in the third.
"I felt pretty good today," Gallardo said. "I think I was able to command and throw my pitches except for that one fastball that I left to Snyder in a hitter's count, and he was able to put a good swing on it."
Gallardo didn't find himself in many hitter's counts, which wasn't the case for Keuchel.
"You've got two sides of the spectrum out there -- they're in hitter's counts, and the guy we're facing is constantly in good pitcher's counts," Snyder said. "The outcome of the game tells the tale."
With the Astros' bullpen suffering from overuse and without the services Wilton Lopez and Xavier Cedeno, Mills was pleased that Fick was able to eat three innings while giving up one run. Things were so dire in the bullpen that infielder Matt Downs was warming up at one point in the eighth.
"We needed those three innings, and that was big for [Fick] to be able to do that," Mills said. "He threw the ball extremely well and gave us those innings he's needed and 50 pitches, which was sure nice."