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Locked-in Astros beat Angels for fifth straight win

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Houston Astros might be a welcomed addition to the American League for many teams in the league, but the Los Angeles Angels probably woundn't mind seeing them return to the National League.

The Astros rode another strong performance by their starting pitcher and held on to beat the Angels 5-4 for their fifth win in a row Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.

One day after Bud Norris shut out the Angels for six innings, Jordan Lyles gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, helping to give the Astros a chance to complete a four-game sweep of the Angels on Monday.

The five straight wins for the Astros marks their longest winning streak since April 30-May 5 of last season. They've won six of their past seven overall.

"We're playing really good ball," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Right now we're winning those breakpoints and it's causing us to win the ballgame. I think guys are really locking into the situations and executing at the times in which we really need them to execute."

Carlos Corporan and Carlos Pena each hit a solo home run for the Astros off Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who suffered the loss despite pitching well. Wilson (4-4) gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine and walking none.

Lyles (3-1) has pitched well lately, having given up only one earned run in each of his previous three starts. Sunday, he allowed an RBI single to Albert Pujols in the third inning and a solo home run to Mark Trumbo in the sixth, but that was it. He struck out five and walked one.

"He started pitching to both sides of the plate with a fastball," Porter said of Lyles. "He's added a little bit of a cutter, that's helped him -- especially against lefties. When you're pitching to both sides of the plate with the kind of secondary stuff Jordan has, you have a chance to be really successful in this league."

The Angels had their chances against the Astros bullpen, but came up just short.

The Astros led 3-2 when Pujols began the eighth inning with a double and Trumbo walked against Astros reliever Brad Peacock. But Peacock escaped by getting Josh Hamilton on a flyout and Howie Kendrick on a double-play grounder.

An error by Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo in the ninth -- his second error of the game -- keyed a two-run inning for the Astros, with both runs scoring on a single by Matt Dominguez.

Those runs turned out to be big, because the Angels got a two-run home run from Hank Conger in the bottom of the ninth to pull within 5-4. With Astros closer Jose Veras unavailable after pitching in the previous two games, Porter summoned Hector Ambriz, who got the final three outs for his second save.

The Angels had won 10 of 12 games before the Astros came to town, and with the three wins in the current series, the Astros have beaten the Angels in six of nine meetings this season.

"We've played like trash against them, to be honest with you," Wilson said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing against, you can't allow errors. We're supposed to be a good defensive team and a good pitching team. If we lose by one because we didn't hit, it's a little easier to swallow. But if we make a couple errors, I don't think anybody's happy about that. Everybody's hard on themselves in this locker room."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia refused to say that losing games to the team with the worst record in the American League is a missed opportunity.

"I don't care who we're playing," Scioscia said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing or where we're playing, (what matters is) how we're playing. And right now, we're not playing good baseball. We didn't play a good defensive game today and certainly offensively we didn't get it done."

NOTES: Angels LHP Sean Burnett played catch Sunday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with a sore left elbow. This is Burnett's second stint on the DL this season; he missed time earlier because of a strained left forearm. When healthy, he's been the Angels' most effective reliever with a 0.93 ERA (one earned run in 9 2/3 innings). ... Pujols went into Sunday's game with four hits in his previous 24 at-bats, his season average down to .243. But Pujols, who has been hobbled by a sore right knee and plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has been a much better hitter when he's in the lineup as the designated hitter. In 27 games as the DH, he's hitting .294 with a .379 on-base percentage and .819 OPS. In 27 games as the first baseman, he's hitting .188 with a .250 OBP and .626 OPS. ... Astros 2B Jose Altuve leads all major league second basemen with seven three-hit games, and ranks second in stolen bases (nine), tied for fourth in hits (63) and fifth in batting average (.300) at his position. ... Veras has six saves in the Astros' last 17 games, compared to only four saves in the team's first 40 games. Opposing batters have hit just .134 (8-for-67) over his last 20 appearances.
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