HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel pitched with the understanding that the easiest way to negate the results from his previous outing was to return to the form that made him a viable Cy Young Award candidate entering September.
The Houston ace left-hander pitched splendidly into the eighth inning, and with the offense buoyed by the dynamism of the top the order, the Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
Keuchel (18-8) allowed one run on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings. With 203 strikeouts on the season, he matched Mike Cuellar for the club's single-season record for K's by a left-hander.
Shelled for a career-high nine runs last week at Texas, Keuchel returned to his dominating form at Minute Maid Park to become the first pitcher in major league history to start a season 14-0 at home. Keuchel has a 1.47 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 17 home starts this year.
"I really didn't feel that well heading into it," Keuchel said. "It was one of those things; I knew I had to battle.
"All in all, I'll take it, but definitely frustrating based on some of those base hits."
The Astros (80-71) extended their lead for the second American League wild card to three games over the idle Minnesota Twins and 3 1/2 games over the Angels (76-74), who dropped to 1-6 at Minute Maid Park this season.
Second baseman Jose Altuve, right fielder George Springer and shortstop Carlos Correa, who turns 21 on Tuesday, keyed the Houston attack going a combined 8-for-12 with three runs and four RBIs. They were the top three batters in the Astros' order.
Altuve (3-for-4) finished a home run shy of the cycle, while Correa added three RBIs. Altuve, Springer and Correa each scored a run.
"When they put it together, it's pretty fun, isn't it?" Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's a difficult trio to get through, especially when they get going one after another. Whether it's speed, whether it's power, whether it's quality at-bats, when all three of those guys are locked in, it's a pretty special group."
Houston picked up a half-game on the Texas Rangers in the chase for the American League West title, slicing the deficit to one game.
The Angels rallied with two outs in the ninth against right-hander Josh Fields and lefty Oliver Perez, getting the tying run to the plate in the form of shortstop Erick Aybar. However, Astros closer Luke Gregerson induced a groundout for his 28th save.
Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (7-12) dominated the Astros previously this season, posting a 1.71 ERA over three starts. However, by the third inning Monday, the Astros matched their season output of earned runs against him. Correa belted a two-run home run, his 19th, the opposite way into the Astros' bullpen in right center field, doubling Houston's lead to 4-0.
"In the fifth inning, they got a couple, but I think the walk (to center fielder Jake Marisnick) hurt (Weaver) and then Altuve rolls one through the six-hole and then Springer rolls one through the six-hole," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he kept us in it. But unfortunately, we just couldn't get anything going early to give him any margin of error."
Designated hitter Evan Gattis delivered Houston a 2-0 lead in the second with his line drive, two-run shot off the left field foul pole. Gattis scored left fielder Colby Rasmus with his club-leading 26th homer.
Weaver departed with two outs in the sixth, having allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
"Well, 82 (mph) and up in this ballpark doesn't quite work too good," Weaver said. "I wish I felt as good as I did in the bullpen. That's probably the best pregame bullpen I've thrown in a year. Just couldn't translate it over to the game."
NOTES: The Astros recalled RHP Dan Straily from Triple-A Fresno to provide additional long-relief depth. Straily, 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA over his previous two stints with the Astros this season, finished 10-9 with a 4.77 ERA in 22 starts with Fresno. ... Angels RHP Joe Smith (5-5, 3.71 ERA with three saves) underwent an MRI on his left ankle on Monday, but the timetable for his return remains unknown. Smith, who leads Angels relievers with 63 innings pitched, sprained his left ankle in a freak accident at the team hotel in Minneapolis on Saturday. ... The Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, claimed the Pacific Coast League championship series with a 7-3 victory over Round Rock on Sunday. It is the first championship in franchise history for Fresno, which joined the Houston farm system this season.