Having put their unsightly losing streak to rest, the Los Angeles Angels still have a ways to go to get where they want to be.
Another win at home on Sunday against the Houston Astros - along with getting starter C.J. Wilson on track - would be a step in the right direction.
The Angels (3-8) needed some late-game heroics to avoid the franchise's first-ever 2-9 start, with Albert Pujols coming through with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win Saturday. Josh Hamilton also hit his first home run with the Angels, connecting on a solo shot in the sixth inning to help put the brakes on the team's five-game skid. He had gone 37 at-bats without a homer for his new club and entered the game hitting .179 this season.
"It's good to get the first one out of the way, and also get a walkoff win. The combination of both was very exciting," Hamilton said. "When I looked up and saw the crowd give me an ovation, I went, 'Whew.'
"But more than anything, we want to start racking up some Ws."
To do so, the Angels are going to have to continue to get starting pitching performances like Saturday's. Garrett Richards - filling in for the injured Jered Weaver - went 6 1-3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks. It wasn't spectacular, but it was the longest outing by a Los Angeles starter this year, showing just how unreliable the staff has been thus far.
Even with Richards' performance, Angels starters are 1-5 with a 5.98 ERA, and Wilson hasn't helped matters. He didn't record a decision in two starts while allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits and seven walks over 12 innings.
"We're all just super-competitive people within ourselves," Wilson said after his last start, a 9-5 loss to Oakland on Tuesday. He needed 43 pitches just to get through the first inning. "I was determined to have a better start than I did (last week) in Cincinnati, and it turned out to be the same result."
Opposing Wilson for Houston will be Philip Humber , who owns a 3.09 ERA through two starts but is 0-2 as Houston was shut out both times.
"Our job is to go out there and put up as many zeros as we can," Humber told the team's official website after a 3-0 loss at Seattle last Monday. "We know we have a talented club here, and it's just a matter of time until guys start putting some runs together, and I have confidence these guys are going to do that."
Humber may have missed his chance to benefit from Houston's mini-offensive outburst. The Astros (4-7) followed his last start by scoring 29 runs on 48 hits over a three-game win streak, then managed four runs on four hits in Saturday's loss.
Several Angels have had success in their limited opportunities against Humber, with Mike Trout going 2 for 4 with a home run while Pujols is 2 for 4 with a double and a homer.
Wilson is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA in four career starts against Houston.
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 04, 2013||Josh Fields||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 31, 2013||Alex White||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Fernando Martinez||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|April 13, 2013||Kevin Jepsen||15-Day DL||Right triceps tightness|
|April 11, 2013||Alberto Callaspo||Day-to-Day||Calf|
|April 10, 2013||Erick Aybar||15-Day DL||Bruised left heel|
|April 09, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left heel|
|April 08, 2013||Jered Weaver||15-Day DL||Fractured left elbow - out 4-6 weeks|
|April 07, 2013||Jered Weaver||Day-to-Day||Strained left elbow|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Now that Josh Hamilton has homered in consecutive games, Mike Trout has found his power stroke and C.J. Wilson has gotten his first win of the season, the Los Angeles Angels hit the road for frigid Minnesota with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Trout hit his first home run of the season, teaming with Hamilton and Wilson to beat the Houston Astros 4-1 Sunday.
Trout put the Angels ahead for good with his solo homer in the third inning. He also doubled and scored three times.
Hamilton tripled and singled before hitting his second homer of the year, a two-run drive in the eighth.
"It's big to get that first series win. We just want to take that momentum into Minnesota," Trout said.
Wilson (1-0) allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out three, walked four and threw 115 pitches.
The left-hander held the Astros to a pair of singles after giving up back-to-back doubles by Ronny Cedeno and Matt Dominguez with none out in the second.
"We talked about how he had some command issues in his last start, so working counts was definitely part of our approach as a team," Astros center fielder Justin Maxwell said. "We did a really good job of making him work. I think almost every one of our batters had a full count at one time or another. So it worked pretty well, and we got some runners on."
Wilson, who threw 43 pitches during the first inning of his previous start last Monday against Oakland and gave up three runs, made 29 this time in the first. He escaped a bases-loaded jam when Carlos Corporan grounded out.
"I know exactly what went wrong the last time - after the fact," Wilson said. "During that game I didn't really know. I was sort of searching for the reason once I started missing."
"But today I figured it out. I knew I was missing, but I just wasn't going to give in - because I knew at some point that I was going to get a groundball or a strikeout to get out of the inning," he said. "Usually, the book on them is that they're a high-swinging percentage team. And they barely swung the bat today - which is very weird."
Ernesto Frieri , the fourth Angels pitcher, got four outs for his second save.
Philip Humber (0-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings and struck out four. The Astros didn't score a run in either of his first two outings for them, which he lost 4-0 loss to Texas and 3-0 at Seattle.
"The guys are battling and today we got some runners on, but C.J. was tough," Humber said. "He made pitches when he had to make them, and their bullpen pretty much shut us down."
"As a pitcher, you can't really control wins and losses. You just go out there and try to give the team a chance to win when it's our turn. There are times when I go out there and don't deserve to win and my teammates have picked me up. That's happened a lot in the past, so you just keep going," he said.
One night after getting a successful suicide squeeze bunt from Marwin Gonzalez , Houston manager Bo Porter tried it again with Cedeno in the sixth with the Astros down by a run. But Wilson charged in and flipped the ball to Hank Conger for the tag on Carlos Pena .
"They had a bat-handler up there in Cedeno, so it was zero surprise," Wilson said. "I came up set, just knowing that this was possibly where they were going to try it - because anything that they can do to get the momentum back is huge for them. I threw him a cutter up and in, which is the textbook kind of thing you're supposed to do, and it just bounced right at me. I was fortunate to get a good break off the mound and field it clean. I was very excited."
Trout, whose 30 homers, 83 RBIs and .326 average last season helped him win AL Rookie of the Year honors, gave the Angels a 2-1 lead. It was his first RBI in four games since manager Mike Scioscia switched him from first to second in the batting order.
"The difference today was just being more relaxed," Trout said. "The last couple games I had been jumpy, a little anxious. I calmed myself down and told myself to relax a little bit, and I kept myself balanced most of the game. I got a couple good pitches to hit and put good swings on them."
Hamilton, who homered in Saturday night's 5-4 win, hit an opposite-field drive that just cleared the fence in left-center as Maxwell made a leaping attempt.
"I thought he was camped under it," Hamilton said. "He was playing there, anyway. I think he would have caught it if he hadn't jumped into the wall. I think he got a little too close to the wall. I've done that myself."
The Angels got a run in the first when Trout doubled and scored from third on Hamilton's two-out infield single.
NOTES: The last three teams Humber has pitched for - Oakland, Chicago and Houston - claimed him off waivers. Of the 23 pitchers who have thrown perfect games in the majors, only Humber, Randy Johnson and David Wells started the following season with a different team. ... Ten of Trout's homers last season gave the Angels a lead. ... Dominguez has played errorless ball at 3B through his first 11 games (43 chances). ... Wilson is 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA in five career starts against the Astros.