Angels-Astros Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 13, 2013
While they likely won't avoid finishing with triple-digit losses again, the Houston Astros have tried their best to begin wrapping up this season in positive fashion. Dallas Keuchel will try to lead his club to its first four-game win streak in three months by ending his recent struggles in Friday night's series opener against the red-hot Los Angeles Angels. Houston (50-96) has lost a combined 213 games in the last two seasons and is on pace to match its 107 defeats from a year ago even with its current win streak. The Astros outscored Seattle 25-7 during a road sweep earlier this week. They batted .310 and .372 with runners in scoring position while their starters posted a 1.06 ERA. Matt Dominguez, 5 for 11 in the series, had a pair of doubles and scored two runs in a 6-1 victory Wednesday. "It's something we talked about headed down the stretch to the end of the year. Let's build some momentum moving toward next year,'' manager Bo Porter said. The Astros, however, have lost each of Keuchel's last seven starts, with the left-hander going 0-4 with a 6.12 ERA. Keuchel (5-9, 4.99 ERA) gave up five runs and 10 hits over 3 1-3 innings - his shortest start of the season - in a 7-5 loss in Oakland last Friday. Keuchel gave up four runs in four-plus innings in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to Los Angeles on Aug. 17. He yielded two runs in seven frames in his first start against the Angels, a 6-3 win May 31. Houston's 9-7 record against Los Angeles this season is its best versus an AL opponent. Its only other winning mark against a Junior Circuit team is a 4-3 record versus the Chicago White Sox. The Astros, however, were swept in three games in the most recent home matchup with Los Angeles from June 28-30. The Angels (70-76) also enter this series having won 15 of 20, and 12 of 14 on the road. Kole Calhoun helped his club complete a three-game sweep in Toronto by hitting a solo homer in a 4-3 victory Thursday. Calhoun is the first Angels' player with at least one RBI in 15 games over a stretch of 16 starts. "There is a still (some) season left to go and we're going to go out and try to win games. You never know what can happen, so we are going to out and play hard," said Calhoun, who is 10 for 18 with seven RBIs in his last five games. Jason Vargas (8-6, 3.76) will try to help the Angels keep rolling while building on a solid outing in his latest start. The left-hander gave up two runs over six innings and struck out eight Sunday against Texas but did not get a decision in a 4-3 loss. Vargas, 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA in three all-time starts against Houston, gave up three runs over 5 1-3 innings without a decision in a 7-5 loss to the Astros on Aug. 18. Mark Trumbo, batting .424 with four homers in his last eight games, has a homer, triple and double in his five at-bats versus Keuchel. Dominguez is 4 for 5 in his career against Vargas, and Jose Altuve is 3 for 6. The Astros haven't won four in a row since June 12-16.
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