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Astros 6, Angels 3

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Carlos Pena had three hits, Jason Castro homered and Dallas Keuchel pitched his best game of the season as the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Keuchel (2-2) wasn't even on the Astros' Opening Day roster, and when he first joined the club in early April, he worked out of the bullpen. But he pitched like he belonged against the Angels, giving up two runs and six hits through seven innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.

Angels starter Tommy Hanson (2-2) was making his first start since May 4, after taking time off to deal with family issues related to the death of his 26-year-old stepbrother. He gave up five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings but managed to retire the side in order four times. It was the other innings that cost him -- and the Angels.

The Astros scored three runs off Hanson in the fourth to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead. They increased their lead to 6-2 with three runs in the seventh and in the process knocked Hanson out of the game.

Ronny Cedeno tripled with one out to start the rally, Brandon Barnes and Pena had RBI singles, and the Astros got a break when the Angels threw away a potential double-play ball on second baseman Howie Kendrick's error.

The win was the Astros' third in a row, matching their longest of the season. It also was their fourth win in seven games against the Angels this season.

The Angels made things interesting once Keuchel was out of the game.

Erick Aybar homered off Paul Clemens in the eighth to cut the Astros' lead to 6-3, and Clemens walked both Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, bringing up Josh Hamilton as the potential tying run. Astros manager Bo Porter went to lefty Travis Blackley to face Hamilton, and the move paid off as Hamilton popped out to end the inning.

Jose Veras pitched a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.

The Angels took a lead in the second with two runs against Keuchel. Trumbo led off the inning with a double, went to third on a single by Hamilton and scored on a single by Chris Iannetta. After a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Harris, Hamilton scored on Chris Nelson's RBI groundout for a 2-0 Angels lead.

Hanson cruised through three innings, but the Astros got to him for three runs in the fourth. Castro led off the inning with a home run, his seventh of the year. J.D. Martinez, Carlos Pena and Jimmy Paredes also had hits in the inning, leading to sacrifice flies by both Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez for a 3-2 Astros lead.

NOTES: Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols was not in the starting lineup for only the second time this season Friday night. Pujols had off-season surgery on his right knee and has been battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot all season. He has started 27 games at first base and 26 as the designated hitter. ... Kendrick batted in the No. 3 spot in the lineup with Pujols getting the night off. For Kendrick, who is hitting .379 (22 for 58) over his last 16 games, it was the first time this season he's batted somewhere other than fifth or sixth. ... Hamilton was in the designated hitter spot Friday against the Astros, one day after being scratched because of back spasms. Manager Mike Scioscia said if needed, Hamilton could get treatment on his back between at-bats. ... Astros RHP Edgar Gonzalez was placed on the 15-day disabled list because a right shoulder strain. Gonzalez, who has not pitched in a game since May 25, is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in eight appearances this season. ... Astros RHP Josh Fields finished his rehab assignment with Class AAA Oklahoma City and was activated off the disabled list for Friday's game against the Angels. Fields, who had a strained right forearm, has pitched in only two games for the Astros this season. ... Heading into Friday, Dominguez has hit eight home runs in his past 17 games, tied for second most in the majors during that span. In his first 33 games of the season before the surge, Dominguez hit no homers.
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