Slugging Astros hits 3 homers, blast past LA Angels, 6-5
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Even when Dallas Keuchel wasn't in unhittable form, the Houston Astros had enough early inning power and late-inning poise to make him a winner again.
Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus hit two-run homers and Keuchel pitched into the seventh inning of a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Jose Altuve also hit an early homer off Matt Shoemaker (2-3) for the AL West-leading Astros, who hung on for just their second victory in six games following their 10-game winning streak.
Keuchel (4-0) didn't look exactly like the AL's pitcher of the month for April, but the left-hander remained unbeaten while his ERA rose from 0.80 to 1.39. He gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out seven and winning his sixth consecutive decision dating to last season.
''Six runs should be more than enough in a game like this,'' Keuchel said. ''I've got to shut the door with a team like that. They didn't win 90-plus games last year for no reason.''
Indeed, Houston wasn't safe until Chad Qualls got Albert Pujols to ground into a forceout with two runners on in the ninth.
Mike Trout homered and had three hits for the Angels, but was intentionally walked after Kole Calhoun's two-out RBI double in the ninth. Pujols grounded to shortstop, completing Qualls' third save and ending his 11-game hitting streak.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch didn't hesitate to put the winning run on base with a slugger with 525 career homers coming up.
''Trout is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, so I'm going to be very careful,'' Hinch said.
Erick Aybar drove in two runs for the Angels, who couldn't overcome Shoemaker's latest rocky start despite six innings of no-hit work by their bullpen.
After Shoemaker gave up three homers in his final two innings last Monday against Seattle, he was touched for a solo shot in the first by Altuve, who moved out of the leadoff spot for the first time all season. Carter then connected for his fifth of the season in the second inning, and Rasmus followed with his sixth in the third.
''That type of power is capable every single day, any pitcher, any ballpark,'' Hinch said.
The Astros hadn't homered in each of the first three innings of a game since Oct. 2, 2004.
''I'm just in one of those holes right now, and I've got to find a way out of it and turn it around,'' Shoemaker said. ''I felt OK. I was just missing some spots. It's a pretty big struggle right now. I thought I was going to go out there today and do really well. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.''
Shoemaker didn't come out for the fourth inning, and the Angels must decide what to do with a 16-game winner from last season who has yielded at least three runs in every start this year.
Keuchel had given up just four runs in the first 45 innings of his outstanding season, but the Angels got two in the first on Aybar's single. Carlos Perez added an RBI double in the fourth, and Trout hit his ninth homer of the season in the fifth, sending it far beyond the fence in center field.
''I want to be perfect every time,'' Keuchel said. ''It's probably not going to happen every time, but in a game like that, you've got to tip your cap to our offense, and I've got to say prayers that the Angels didn't take it to me too much.''
Trout chased Keuchel with a seventh-inning single, but Pat Neshek ended the inning by getting Pujols to fly out.
Perez hit his first career double and has five hits in his first 14 major league at-bats after his recall from the minors Monday. The rookie from Venezuela has thrown out a runner stealing in consecutive games. He already has more RBIs in his first four major league games than veteran starter Chris Iannetta has in 22.
Astros: Qualls took over while closer Luke Gregerson is away from the team on the family emergency medical list.
Angels: Manager Mike Scioscia said he won't alter his rotation with two days off next week, but Shoemaker's struggles certainly could tempt the Angels to skip his next start.
Astros: Scott Feldman (2-3, 5.50) tries to bounce back from a poor start in the series finale.
Angels: Garrett Richards (2-1, 2.52) has been mostly outstanding in four starts since his return from knee surgery last August.