Astros earn dividends from moves, beat Angels

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- On Monday, the Houston Astros reshaped their outfield with a series of roster moves designed, in part, to infuse additional speed into a lineup devoid of it and overly dependent on power for production.
On Tuesday, the Astros received an ideal mixture of both, a blend of power and speed that enabled them to topple the Los Angeles Angels 7-6 at Minute Maid Park.
"That dynamic is still in our lineup," Astros manager Bo Porter said, referencing the three-run homer struck by first baseman Chris Carter in the third. "The guys that we added just added a different dynamic that we haven't had the first portion of this year. And it puts and extreme amount of pressure on the defense to try to get rid of the ball faster."
By recalling speedy right fielder Jimmy Paredes, the Astros (9-24) were able to pair him atop the order behind fleet-footed left fielder Robbie Grossman and ahead of second baseman Jose Altuve, a skilled base runner.
And in the seventh inning, Houston parlayed the third error on Angels catcher Hank Conger into a critical run that allowed the Astros to rebuild its three-run lead as Grossman scored following a double steal along with Altuve.
The Astros' rested bullpen made for a climatic conclusion when left-hander Travis Blackley surrendered a two-out, two-run home run to Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo in the top of the eighth inning.
But Jose Veras retired the Angels in order in the ninth, striking out 2012 American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout to notch his third save.
Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson (3-1) matched his career high with 12 strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings, but the Astros scored four unearned runs to snap their six-game skid. The Angels (11-21), meanwhile, have dropped 10 of 12 overall and eight of their last 10 games on the road.
"No doubt there are parts of this game that are extremely frustrating," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're starting to fight and claw our way back into games, and that's encouraging. But the bottom line is that we did not get enough done. It's real tough to give up five earned runs in a game and come out on the right side of it."
Defensive difficulties for Conger sparked the Astros' five-run third.
Conger not only dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt by Grossman that allowed Grossman to reach base safely with Brandon Barnes already on first, but he also bounced his throw to second base while attempting to pick off Barnes. That misplay came during Paredes' at-bat, and Paredes followed with a run-scoring double that cut the Angels' lead to 3-2.
"Tonight, it just came down to a couple of incidents for the most part," Conger said. "C.J. looked great. Just in that third inning, we weren't able to make a couple plays.
"And then there was that incident in the seventh. That was just a tough break. I'm not sure what happened, but the guys were staying off the bat. I have not seen the replay."
Altuve, whose solo homer in the first provided the first reply to the Angels' three-run frame, added a run-scoring infield single. Three batters later, Carter matched the blast that Angels designated hitter Mark Trumbo struck in the first inning with one of his own, giving Houston a 6-3 lead.
Houston right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0) survived that rocky first and worked five innings, allowing three runs, four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He departed having thrown just 82 pitches but just as in his season debut last week against the Detroit Tigers, he left with a lead.
"I have confidence in myself. I don't know if these two starts are going to get my confidence any higher," Lyles said. "I believe in what I have and what I can do. I think I threw the ball a little bit better tonight that I did last time. Being down 3-0 and then putting up some zeroes against a pretty good offense gave our team a chance to win."
NOTES: Paredes batted in the No. 2 hole, bumping Altuve down to third. Tuesday marked the first time this season that Altuve hit somewhere other than first or second in the lineup, and he homered in his first at-bat and finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. ... Trumbo has homered in six of his past eight games. ... In addition to recalling Paredes on Monday, the Astros also selected outfielder Trevor Crowe from Triple-A Oklahoma City and reinstated outfielder J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. Houston designated outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment and optioned infielder Brandon Laird to Oklahoma City.

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