Astros jump to early lead, fend off Angels' rally

Astros jump to early lead, fend off Angels' rally

ANAHEIM -- Jose Altuve, Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus homered to back the pitching of left-hander Dallas Keuchel and the Astros held on in the ninth inning to beat the Angels, 6-5, on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

"That type of power is capable every single day, no matter what pitcher, no matter what ballpark, that's what makes us dangerous a lot," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Up and down our lineup, we've got a chance to knock them out of the park."

Keuchel (4-0) overcame a first inning in which he allowed three hits, two walks and two runs and wound up giving up four earned runs 6 2/3 innings. Chad Qualls, after walking Mike Trout, despite him representing the winning run, retired Albert Pujols to end the game with a pair of runners stranded on base.

"Qualls has been in the league a long time and he's going to go with what we wanted to get the job done," said Hinch, whose team (20-11) has matched its best start in franchise history.

Angels starter Matt Shoemaker (2-3) lasted only three innings, giving up six hits, including three homers and six runs. Carter's two-run homer in the second put the Astros ahead, 3-2, and Rasmus' two-run blast in the third made it 6-2. Trout (3-for-4) hit his ninth homer in the fifth inning for the Angels.

Pick your poison: Considering how dangerous Trout (3-for-4 with a homer) is as a hitter, it's no wonder Hinch chose to walk him and put him on base with two outs in the ninth, even if he represented the winning run. That forced Qualls to face old nemesis Pujols, who hit into a game-ending fielder's choice. More >

"It's never fun facing him, especially in that type of situation," Qualls said. "He's gotten a lot of big hits in a lot of big situations. I just tried to make my pitches and keep the ball down and hope he hits them right at somebody. I got my patent ground ball right at the shortstop."

Qualls shuts the door

Too many big flies: For a second start in a row, Shoemaker was bitten by three home run balls. Against the Mariners on Monday, the three homers came late, after Shoemaker took a one-hitter into the seventh. This time, the Astros got to him early, and drove him out of the game after three innings, three homers and six earned runs for a 6-2 deficit. More >

"From the get-go, I don't know if he was trying to overthrow, or had trouble with his release point," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Shoemaker. "It just didn't look like he was able to finish pitches, or finish hitters."

Shoemaker fans Carter

Keuchel stays unbeaten: The lefty had allowed only four earned runs all season in 45 innings prior to giving up four in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels, though his run of consecutive quality starts came to an end at 13. Keuchel had three gems earlier this year in which he didn't get a decision. More >

Keuchel's seven strikeouts

"Six runs should have been more than enough," Keuchel said. "In a game like this we eventually won it. I'll take what I can get. I've got to be better, myself."

"We're a resilient bunch and we've shown that so far. I don't think we're ever out of it, and I like what I see from these guys." -- Keuchel

"Our bullpen did a great job [six no-hit, shutout innings]. They kept us in the game. If you're down 6-2 and you're going to lose, you want it to be 6-5, not 10-9." -- Scioscia

The last time the Astros homered in each of the first three innings of a game prior to Saturday was Oct. 2, 2004 (Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio).

Astros: Scott Feldman (2-3, 5.50) will start Sunday's 2:35 p.m. CT series finale, looking to rebound from a rough outing Tuesday against the Rangers in which he allowed six runs and nine hits in only three innings. Still, he has quality starts in 11 of his last 13 outings since Aug. 20 of last year..

Angels: Right-hander Garrett Richards (2-1, 2.52) takes the mound Sunday in the final game of a four-game series at Angel Stadium. Richards is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Astros in Anaheim. He also has a 1.80 ERA in his past three starts in 2015.

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Earl Bloom is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.