Astros 9, Angels 5

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The way the Houston Astros have been swinging the bats lately, even Jason Jennings has benefited.

Carlos Lee homered and drove in four runs, Hunter Pence had three hits with a tiebreaking two-run shot, and the Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-5 Tuesday night.

Jennings (1-1) won for the first time in seven starts with the Astros, who got him from the Colorado Rockies last December in a five-player deal. The right-hander allowed five runs—four earned—and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

“I didn’t expect to get the first one in June, but it’s better late than never,” said Jennings, who pitched for the fifth time after missing 44 games because of tendinitis in his elbow. “It’s a little deceiving, just because I did miss so many games. I felt like I’ve been throwing the ball OK. We just hadn’t put it together on the days I’ve pitched, but it’s nice to finally get it.”

The Astros have scored 37 runs over their last four games. Jennings came in with the lowest run support among Houston starters (2.38), and last season with Colorado, he had the second-worst run support per nine innings in the NL (4.03).

“Ever since the series at home against Seattle, we’ve been swinging the bats really well,” Jennings said. “And that takes pressure off us because there’s room for mistakes, room for us to be more aggressive and not try to be so careful.”

The Astros got at least one hit from everyone in the starting lineup and finished with a season-high 17—the eighth straight game in which they’ve had 11 or more. No. 9 hitter Orlando Palmeiro tied a career high with four hits, including a pair of doubles. Craig Biggio was 2-for-6 with an RBI single, edging within eight hits of 3,000.

Bartolo Colon (6-3) gave up seven runs and 11 hits over six innings, struck out three and walked three. The 2005 AL Cy Young winner is 1-3 with a 9.79 ERA in his last five outings, raising his season ERA to 6.17 in 11 starts.

“It’s a concern. We’ve got to figure out a way where we can work through this thing and get him back on track,” pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “Bart’s not the same guy he was five years ago, but his stuff is still good. He’s still moving the fastball around, in and out, and the two-seamer’s still a good pitch for him.

“He just has to execute his pitches, work ahead in the count and change speeds. But he’s putting himself in counts where he’s throwing fastballs, and they’re sitting on the fastball and getting pretty good swings at him.”

One night after a 10-9 victory in which Chone Figgins drove in the game-winning run in the ninth with his sixth hit of the game, the AL West-leading Angels found themselves in another seesaw battle with an Astros club desperate to keep from falling out of the NL Central race.

Houston overcame deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 against Colon after climbing out of a 4-1 hole Monday night against Angels ace John Lackey. They Astros tied it 5-all in the fourth on Biggio’s RBI single and Lee’s major league-leading 11th sacrifice fly, which equaled his career high.

Houston grabbed a 7-5 edge in the sixth when Biggio singled and Pence drove Colon’s next pitch over the 18-foot wall in right field for his 10th homer.

The Astros tacked on two more in the seventh against Dustin Moseley, who gave up Eric Munson’s RBI double and Palmeiro’s run-scoring single.

Vladimir Guerrero and Reggie Willits hit sacrifice flies and Howie Kendrick scored on a fielding error by shortstop Mark Loretta, giving the Angels a 3-0 margin through two innings.

“The first couple of innings were ugly,” Jennings said. “But after that I settled down a little bit, made a couple of adjustments and threw up a couple of zeros.”

The Astros tied it with one swing by Lee, who drove a first-pitch fastball over the center field fence for his 12th home run after singles by Palmeiro and Pence. But the Halos regained the lead in the bottom half with an RBI single by Gary Matthews Jr. and Kendrick’s run-scoring double.

Notes

After the game, the Astros placed RHP Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 16. They also purchased the contract of LHP Stephen Randolph from Triple-A Round Rock. … The Stanley Cup made its first visit to Angel Stadium, escorted by five members of the NHL champion Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner and Brad May all threw a ceremonial first pitch while Chris Pronger and Chris Kunitz held the Cup aloft. … Lee’s 59 RBIs tie him with Prince Fielder for the NL lead.

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