HOUSTON -- Kyle Kendrick and the Philadelphia Phillies picked the wrong time to stumble in an already heated race for a spot in the playoffs.
Kendrick gave up four runs in as many innings while the bats went cold, and the Phillies fell 5-0 to the lowly Astros on Saturday night for their second loss in three games.
The win was a feat of sorts for the Astros, who avoided -- at least temporarily -- their 100th loss of the season after reaching the dreadful mark in 2011 for the first time in franchise history.
The loss temporarily put the Phillies 3 1/2 games back in the race for the second National League wild-card spot, pending the outcome of the St. Louis-Los Angeles game Saturday.
The Astros took Friday's series opener, rallying from a 4-0 deficit for a 6-4 win.
Justin Maxwell hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Astros the lead, and they never looked back.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (2-7) gave up five hits through 5 1/3 innings for his first win since June 23 against Cleveland.
Relievers Mickey Storey, Xavier Cedeno, Hector Ambriz and Wesley Wright combined to complete the shutout for the Astros.
Kendrick (9-11) entered the game boasting the second-lowest ERA (2.34) in the majors since the All-Star break.
But the Phillies' right-hander seemed to struggle early and was pulled after five innings. He was tagged for four runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked none.
Maxwell inflicted major damage early.
Facing a full count against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, Maxwell took a hanging changeup deep to left field to score leadoff man Jose Altuve, who had singled. It was Maxwell's team-leading 16th home run of the season.
The Astros got Kendrick for runs again in the second and fifth innings.
Consecutive singles by Matt Dominguez, Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez to start the second inning loaded the bases for the Astros.
Keuchel reached on a fielder's choice that had Dominguez out at home plate.
Jose Altuve followed with a grounder to first that Ryan Howard turned into an out at second, allowing Dominguez to score to make it 3-0.
Brett Wallace added to the score in the fifth inning with a ground-rule double that scored Keuchel from second to extend the lead to four runs.
Keuchel shut out the Phillies through the first five innings, allowing just four hits and four walks.
Keuchel walked batters to load the bases in two innings during the span, only to frustrate the Phillies by escaping the jams unscathed.
The Phillies banked on a leadoff single by Jimmy Rollins and two walks to load the bases with two outs in the first inning, but Keuchel got Ty Wigginton to fly out to left to end the threat.
Keuchel dug himself out of another hole in the fourth inning, further frustrating the Phillies, who by then were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Keuchel walked Dominic Brown with one out, then allowed Erik Kratz a single. Kendrick put the runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and Keuchel walked Jimmy Rollins to load the bases.
Keuchel fell behind in the count against Kevin Frandsen before trapping his hard-hit grounder and throwing it to first for the third out.
NOTES: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he plans to have C Carlos Ruiz back in the lineup Sunday and every other start from there on out. Ruiz, who played in Friday's 12-6 win, sat out Saturday as he continues to nurse his left foot (plantar fasciitis). ... The Astros will start Tyler Greene at second base Sunday in place of Altuve, who manager Tony DeFrancesco said can use the rest. ... Philadelphia has not lost consecutive games over its last two weeks, a span of 15 games. The stretch is a season high for the Phillies.