ANAHEIM (AP) – Jason Castro’s leadoff homer triggered a three-run fourth and Dallas Keuchel pitched seven effective innings, leading the Houston Astros to a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Keuchel (2-2) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out four and walked none in the opener of a four-game series. The 25-year-old left-hander was making his fifth start after beginning the season in the bullpen.
Paul Clemens came on in the eighth with the Astros leading 6-2 and gave up Erick Aybar’s first homer of the year before walking two batters. But then Travis Blackley retired Josh Hamilton on a popup with runners at the corners, and Jose Veras pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
Tommy Hanson (2-2) was charged with five runs — four earned — and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings in his first start since May 4. The right-hander was on the bereavement list for six days in April following the death of his stepbrother, then made two starts before going on the restricted list to continue dealing with his grief.
It was Hanson’s second loss in two starts this season against the Astros, a team he was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA against in six starts prior to this season with Atlanta.
Houston, coming off consecutive wins at Colorado, has won three in a row for the second time this season. The other time was April 8-10, when the Astros won twice at Seattle and followed up with a 5-0 win against Hanson at Angel Stadium.
The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the second with Chris Iannetta’s RBI single and a run-scoring groundout by newcomer Chris Nelson. But the Astros pulled ahead with three in the fourth, getting a leadoff home run by Castro on an 0-2 pitch and sacrifice flies from Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez.
Nelson singled and stole second in the fifth, but had to stop at third when shortstop Ronny Cedeno made a diving stop on Aybar’s two-out single in the hole and held onto the ball. Speedy Mike Trout followed with a grounder to Dominguez behind the third-base bag and was thrown out on a bang-bang play.
The Astros extended their margin to 6-2 with three runs in the seventh, two of which were unearned because of second baseman Howie Kendrick’s throwing error.
Cedeno started the rally with a one-out triple off the center-field fence that was poorly tracked by Trout, and rookie Brandon Barnes drove in Cedeno with a single on Hanson’s 89th and final pitch.
Jose Altuve greeted Dane De La Rosa with a single, then made a heads-up baserunning play by stopping short on his way to second on Castro’s grounder to a charging Kendrick — who threw the ball past first baseman Brendan Harris as Barnes scored. Carlos Pena drove in the Astros’ sixth run with a two-out RBI single, his third hit of the game.
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