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Angels win second straight

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Los Angeles Angels finally have a winning streak.

Home runs by Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton and a grind-it-out performance by starting pitcher C.J. Wilson led the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.

Coming on the heels of Saturday's walk-off win, the Angels have won two in a row, the first time all season they've put together back-to-back wins.

"Any time you can build momentum it's good for a club," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And as you start playing and gain confidence on the field it's important. We need to get the games on our terms. (Saturday) night we came back, but today we didn't, we got a lead and held it. That gives you an air of confidence where you can score some runs early, hold a lead and win a ballgame. We haven't had too many of those in the first couple weeks, but the last two games have been good."

Trout's home run in the third inning gave the Angels a 2-1 lead that remained until Hamilton's two-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Angels' much-maligned bullpen a little breathing room.

Ernesto Frieri, the third of three Angels' relievers in the game, pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn his second save. He struck out the side in the ninth.

Wilson seemed to labor throughout, throwing 115 pitches in six innings. But he was effective, holding the Astros to one run and five hits to get his first victory of the season. Sean Burnett and Scott Downs relieved Wilson setting up Frieri.

The Astros' only run of the game came in the second inning when Ronny Cedeno doubled and scored on Matt Dominguez's double.

Wilson found trouble in other innings as well, but found a way to escape. In the first inning, the Astros had the bases loaded with two out, but Wilson got Carlos Corporan to ground out. In the sixth, Wilson thwarted a safety-squeeze attempt when he fielded Cedeno's bunt and threw home to catcher Hank Conger, who tagged out Carlos Pena.

"I had a couple innings there with guys on base, some of that was my fault for falling behind in the count, some of it was just circumstance, but I felt like I made some pretty good pitches today," Wilson (1-0) said. "To get out of it on that squeeze play was awesome, too. That's why we work on it in spring training."

The Angels took a lead against Astros starter Philip Humber (0-3) after Trout legged out a double on what would normally be a routine single to left. He moved to third when Albert Pujols grounded out and scored on Hamilton's infield single for a 1-0 lead. After the Astros tied it, Trout untied it with his first home run of the season, a towering drive to right-center field.

"Just being more relaxed," Trout said when asked what was different for him Sunday. "The last couple games I've been jumpy, a little anxious. I calmed myself down, told myself to relax a little bit. And I got a couple good pitches to hit and put good swings on them."

It stayed 2-1 until the eighth when Trout walked and scored on Hamilton's two-run homer, his second of the season.

"I feel the same as I have for the last week; I'm just getting hits now," said Hamilton, who also had a triple and a single, raising his average to a season-high .234. "I've been swinging at good balls, been going deep in counts for four or five games now."

Humber was the hard-luck loser, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings. His ERA for the season is just 2.89, but the Astros have lost all three of his starts because they've scored a total of one run, having been shut out in his first two starts.

"The guys are battling and today we got some runners on, but C.J. was tough,'' Humber said. "He made pitches when he had to make them, and their bullpen pretty much shut us down. As a pitcher, you can't really control wins and losses. You just go out there and try to give the team a chance to win when it's our turn."

After winning the first game of the series, the Astros lost the last two and missed a chance at winning their second consecutive road series. They go to Oakland next.

NOTES: Trout was off to a slow start this season, hitting .245 with no homers, one RBI and 12 strikeouts going into Sunday's game. He has hit a lot of weak grounders to the left side of the infield, a result of being jammed by inside pitches. "They're pitching me in, and some of those balls I'm a little late," Trout said. "It's nothing you can't fix. I feel great up there." He seemed to make the fixes Sunday, getting a double in his first at-bat and his first home run of the season in his second at-bat. ... Angels right-hander Michael Roth posted the victory in his major-league debut on Friday night with two scoreless innings of relief. He was called up that day from Class AA Arkansas to replace injured Kevin Jepsen in the bullpen. Roth was a team captain on the South Carolina's College World Series championship team in 2011. ... Angels right-hander Ryan Madson, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw a bullpen session Sunday at 100 percent and continues to make progress, but there is still no timetable for his return. ... Astros right-hander John Ely is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Ely, acquired in an off-season trade with the Dodgers, began spring training as a candidate for the starting rotation but began the season at Class AAA Oklahoma City. ... Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez (strained oblique) began a rehab assignment Sunday for Oklahoma City. If all goes well, Martinez, who was hurt late in spring training, could be activated for the series against the Cleveland Indians next weekend in Houston.
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