The Angels will try to begin changing that Sunday against the Astros, who are looking for their longest winning streak in over a year.
Los Angeles (25-31) is expected to be a pennant contender with one of the highest payrolls in baseball at $148.5 million. Instead, the club is third in the AL West, 9 1/2 games behind first-place Texas.
The Angels are also having a hard time with the newest member of the division - Houston (19-37). They've dropped five of eight to the team with the lowest payroll in the majors at $27 million.
Los Angeles is batting .226 and averaging 3.2 runs while losing four of the previous five matchups, including the first two of this four-game wraparound series.
Those offensive issues were at the forefront Saturday, when the Angels were held to seven hits in a 2-0 loss - their fourth in six games."Tonight we had some chances with runners in scoring position and couldn't get it done," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Mark Trumbo , who is hitting .270 with a team-high 12 homers and 37 RBIs, has been a major culprit of their hitting woes against last-place Houston. He's hitting .226 with one homer and five RBIs over eight meetings, and he's 4 for 20 in the past five.
Production at the plate may be needed since C.J. Wilson (4-3, 3.95 ERA) is looking to rebound from his worst - and shortest - outing of the season. The left-hander was tagged for season highs of six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in an 8-7 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
Wilson struggled greatly in his last meeting with the Astros, surrendering seven runs - two earned - despite striking out a season-high 12 in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-6 road loss May 7.
He was much better against them at home April 14, yielding one run with four walks in six innings of a 4-1 victory.
The Astros are trying to extend their winning streak to five games for the first time since April 30-May 5, 2012.
Carter is a career .217 hitter, but he owns a .327 average with six homers and 13 RBIs in 18 meetings with the Angels. However, he's been vital to Houston's success against them this year, going 9 for 25 (.360) with four homers and 10 RBIs after connecting for a two-run shot Saturday.
He's also 4 for 9 with a homer off Wilson.
Altuve is batting .364 against them this year, hitting safely in seven of the eight games.
Jordan Lyles (2-1, 4.50) could use the help if he's going to win for the second time in three starts. The 22-year-old right-hander is 1-0 while allowing two runs in 13 innings over his last two outings, but he was backed by one run in his most recent Tuesday.
Lyles allowed one run in seven innings while the offense mustered five hits in a 2-1 loss to Colorado.
"I think he's learned from his time last year," manager Bo Porter said. "I think he's learned from early on this year, and he was able to make quality pitches to get himself out of some tough jams and got the big strikeout when he needed it."
Lyles had six strikeouts while allowing three runs in five innings of a 7-6 win over Wilson last month.
|May 26, 2013||Edgar Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 13, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back spasms|
|April 24, 2013||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|April 20, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|April 20, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|May 28, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|May 27, 2013||Sean Burnett||15-Day DL||Left elbow inflammation|
|May 26, 2013||Sean Burnett||Day-to-Day||Left game - Forearm tightness|
|May 21, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Sean Burnett||15-Day DL||Left forearm irritation|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Houston Astros appear to be enjoying their new address in the American League West, particularly when they play the Los Angeles Angels .
Carlos Pena and Carlos Corporan homered against C.J. Wilson and Jordan Lyles turned in his fourth impressive outing in a row for the Astros, who beat the Angels 5-4 Sunday for the third straight time and extended their winning streak to a season-high five games.
"It says that we can beat anybody in this league. If we can compete with the Angels, then we can compete with anybody," reliever Hector Ambriz said after getting the save. "We've attacked their whole lineup with fastballs, curve balls and off-speed pitches and haven't fallen behind in the count. You've got to respect what they can do, but we've got to respect our stuff, too."
The Astros, who entered this four-game wraparound series with an AL-worst 17-37 record, have won six of nine meetings with the Angels after coming over from the NL. Two of those wins have come at Wilson's expense, after the two-time All-Star had won his first five decisions against Houston with a 3.37 ERA.
"Sports are very hard to predict," Wilson said. "There's a lot of people over the years who have tried to be experts at projecting things, and I don't think these people have much of a shot past a coin flip in really predicting what's going to go on - because there's so many factors.
"I don't think they're playing over their heads against us. They're a major league team," he added. "I mean, you watch the way Bo Porter manages. He forces action. Guys are stealing, guys are bunting, and they have a lot of players on their team with tools. They've got some relievers that can come in and strike people out, and they've got some guys that can hit home runs."
A victory over the Angels in Monday night's series finale would give the Astros their first four-game sweep of any club since Aug, 23-26, 2010, at Philadelphia - and their first six-game winning streak since July 27-Aug. 3, 2010 (seven in a row).
"We just haven't played well against them. That's really what it comes down to," Wilson said. "It's frustrating because we've been put in the position to win some of these games and we have not come through. The frustrating thing about our season so far is that we haven't really been consistent. Right now I'd say we're too up and down."
Lyles (3-1) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked one. The 22-year-old right-hander, who was promoted from Triple-A on May 2, has a 1.90 ERA over his past four starts after giving up eight runs through four innings in a 12-7 loss against Texas.
The Angels threatened in the eighth against Brad Peacock , who gave up a double to Albert Pujols and a walk to Mark Trumbo with none out. But Josh Hamilton flied to center on the right-hander's next pitch and Howie Kendrick grounded into a double play.
The Astros loaded the bases with none out in the ninth against Garrett Richards , and Matt Dominguez delivered their final two runs with a single. Richards left the game with a twisted left ankle after he charged in on rookie Brandon Barnes ' attempted suicide-squeeze bunt and flipped to Hank Conger for the tag on Trevor Crowe .
Porter sent Peacock back to the mound in the ninth after he had already pitched 1 1-3 innings, and the right-hander gave up a two-run homer by Conger after a leadoff walk to Alberto Callaspo . But Ambriz came on and got three outs for his second save in four attempts after regular closer Jose Veras closed out the first two games.
"It was nail-biting time there," said Porter, who used Veras five of the previous six days. "Ambriz came in and did a tremendous job to close that game out. I tried to do everything I could to stay away from him because our bullpen has been getting taxed. But once Peacock gave up the two-run homer, we knew that it wouldn't take Ambriz long to get ready."
Wilson (4-4) gave up three runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Pena sent the left-hander's first pitch of the fifth inning barely over the 18-foot wall in right field for his fifth home run and second in five games.
Barnes led off the Houston fifth with a double and scored on a two-out single by J.D. Martinez. The Angels cut the margin to 3-2 in the bottom half, as Trumbo led off with his 13th homer.
Corporan drove an 0-1 pitch to left-center with two outs in the first for his fourth home run. The Angels tied it in the third with an RBI single by Pujols, after Mike Trout reached on a strikeout-wild pitch that sent former Astros prospect J.B. Shuck to third. Lyles minimized the damage by getting Trumbo to ground into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: Lyles was 5-12 with a 5.09 ERA in 25 starts with the Astros last season. ... The Astros have the first overall pick in Thursday's draft for the second straight year, after selecting SS Carlos Correa in 2012. The only other teams with that distinction since the draft began in 1965 were Tampa Bay in 2007-08 (LHP David Price and SS Tim Beckham ), and Washington in 2009-10 (RHP Stephen Strasburg and OF Bryce Harper ). ... The switch-hitting Corporan struck out his next three times up after the home run.