Angels-Astros Preview


Never mind that the Los Angeles Angels had won 15 of 20 overall and 12 of 14 on the road. Baseball's worst team - the Houston Astros - continued their season-long role as the Angels' pesky foil in Friday's series opener.

Houston seeks its fifth straight win Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, while Los Angeles hopes its ace can help the club get back on track.

The Angels (70-77) had come six games shy of the .500 mark for the first time since July 27 after averaging nearly 5.0 runs during a 15-5 stretch. However, they dropped to 7-10 versus the Astros - their second-worst against any opponent this season - with a 9-7 loss Friday.

Matt Dominguez's grand slam highlighted a six-run fifth for Houston (51-96), which has won four in a row for the first time since June 12-16. Dominguez is 6 for 10 with four extra-base hits and six RBIs over his last three games.

The Astros haven't won five consecutive games since reeling off a season-high six straight from May 29-June 3.

Los Angeles will turn to Jered Weaver (9-8, 3.38 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA over his last four games since dropping back-to-back outings. He did not get a decision Monday after a six-inning, three-run effort in a 6-3 loss at Minnesota, battling through forearm stiffness while recording his fourth straight quality start.

"I started to tighten up there in the third or fourth and got through the sixth and (manager Mike) Scioscia didn't want to push me anymore, which is understandable," Weaver said. "It's nothing concerning, just the hot and humid air and losing a lot of fluids and stuff it just started to tighten up a little bit, but it's not a concern."

The Angels will face a left-handed starter for the third consecutive contest in Houston rookie Brett Oberholtzer (4-2, 2.65). Dallas Keuchel matched a career high by fanning nine batters in just 5 2-3 innings Friday.

Oberholtzer, who boasts a 1.91 ERA in his seven starts, surrendered three runs and seven hits over six innings of a 7-5 road win over the Angels on Aug. 18.

Howie Kendrick was 2 for 5 and scored a run as he rejoined Los Angeles' lineup for the first time since Aug. 5 after a stint on the disabled list due to a hyperextended left knee. Kendrick was replaced in the bottom of the eighth, and Scioscia plans to progressively increase his workload.

Houston catcher Jason Castro, who hasn't played since last Saturday because of a right knee injury, hopes to serve as designated hitter during the weekend.

Mark Trumbo is batting .407 (15 for 37) with four home runs and nine extra-base hits during a nine-game hitting streak. He's driven in 15 runs in 16 games against Houston this season.

Chris Carter had recorded six homers and 17 RBIs in 16 meetings with the Angels this year but was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts Friday.