Hamilton broke out of his lengthy slump at Angel Stadium with a walk-off home run in Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning victory. Los Angeles (55-67) hadn't won a division game since beating Oakland on July 25, snapping a team-record 10-game skid.
While Hamilton is batting .400 with 14 RBIs during a 10-game road hitting streak, he had been hitting .054 (2 for 37) in his previous 10 at home before Saturday's 2-for-5 performance."Everybody I've talked to says players go through seasons like this, and this is the first season I've ever gone through like this," said Hamilton, hitting a career-low .227 but with five home runs in his last 14 games against the Astros.
Teammate Mark Trumbo added his 27th home run as the Angels ended a five-game home skid to major league-worst Houston (40-82) in which they averaged 2.0 runs and hit .211.
Los Angeles looks to build on Saturday's 12-hit performance with Vargas (6-5, 3.86 ERA) starting the series finale.
Vargas showed some rust in his first start since having surgery to remove a blood clot from near his left armpit on June 26, allowing four runs and eight hits - two homers - over 4 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 14-7 loss at Yankee Stadium."I think he threw the ball a little better than maybe some things are going to show," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's building into a little bit of stamina and he'll be better next time."
The left-hander hopes to make that progression and improve on his 5-1 record and 3.13 ERA in eight home starts.
Vargas, though, did not pitch well against the Astros on May 9, allowing a season high-tying five runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings before the Angels rallied late for a 6-5 road win May 9.
Jose Altuve went 3 for 3 when facing Vargas in that contest, while Matt Dominguez was 2 for 2 with three RBIs. Vargas has done a nice job against Chris Carter , who is 1 for 12 with six strikeouts in this matchup.
Carter, however, is 8 for 20 with three homers and 10 RBIs over a six-game hitting streak in Anaheim. Robbie Grossman has also been on a road tear, batting .438 during a 12-game run there.
The Astros will attempt to regroup with their fourth win in six games by giving the ball to rookie Brett Oberholtzer (2-1, 2.57).
After posting a 7.36 ERA in three relief appearances, the left-hander has been superb since joining the rotation. He's 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA in three starts and is holding opponents to a .187 batting average during that span.
Oberholtzer pitched well enough to win Monday, allowing two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-1 loss to Yu Darvish and Texas.
He might have to figure out a way to retire Mike Trout , who looks to extend his on-base streak to 40 consecutive games. The All-Star is batting .400 in an eight-game home hitting streak against the Astros.
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
|July 27, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 23, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Left game - mild left calf strain|
|July 09, 2013||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left toe|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 13, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left calf cramp|
|August 06, 2013||Howie Kendrick||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|August 05, 2013||Howie Kendrick||Day-to-Day||Hyperextended left knee|
|July 27, 2013||Albert Pujols||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis|
|July 27, 2013||Albert Pujols||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis|
|June 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Nondisplaced bone fracture, right wrist|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Matt Dominguez took no offense when the Angels intentionally walked a .247-hitting catcher so they could pitch to him in the seventh inning of a tie game.
After all, playing for the Houston Astros these days is filled with all types of indignities.
On the very next pitch, Dominguez took a swing that thrilled his family and capped the Astros' best week in a long while.
Dominguez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning, and Houston won back-to-back series for the first time in nearly two months with a 7-5 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday.
Dominguez tied his career high with four hits in his native Southern California, while L.J. Hoes had his first career homer among his three hits in the major league-worst Astros' fourth win in six games.
Dominguez homered after Angels reliever Juan Gutierrez (0-4) walked Carlos Corporan , and the Astros hung on to their seventh win over Los Angeles this season.
"They just wanted a matchup, I think," said Dominguez, a San Fernando Valley native who left 15 tickets for family. "He hung the slider, and I got it good. Feels good. I guess they had confidence they could get me out more than they did Carlos. That's how baseball is. No hard feelings or anything. I'll just go up and try to do what I can."
Slowly, the young Astros are getting things done. They scored 20 runs while taking two of three games at the Big A, winning with offense after a pitching-dominated series earlier in the week in Oakland, where they also took two of three from the Athletics.
"At some point, we're going to start to get our breaks," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "We're swinging the bats real well, and we're getting good starting pitching."
Brett Oberholtzer (3-1) blew an early three-run lead, but pitched six effective innings during Houston's sixth win in seven games at Angel Stadium. He gave up seven hits and struck out four in his fourth major league start, even retiring nine of his final 10 batters after Hamilton's tying homer.
Oberholtzer attributes the Astros' recent success to "staying loose. I think we're playing with a little swagger, a little confidence about ourselves."
That's in short supply for the Angels (55-68), who have lost 11 of 16 and 23 of 34 - yet Houston (41-82) is still 14 games behind Los Angeles for fourth place in the AL West.
Mike Trout had two hits for the Angels before leaving in the sixth inning with right hamstring tightness.
Josh Hamilton homered and tripled for Los Angeles to follow up his extra-inning homer Saturday night, while Mark Trumbo drove in three runs and hit his 28th homer late in the Angels' sixth loss in eight games.
"It's frustrating losing to anybody," said Hamilton, who delivered his 19th homer. "It doesn't matter who it is. If it was the Yankees in here today, or the Rangers, it would be just as frustrating. It's one of those things where you're playing a team with that kind of a record, but you don't want to relax or take anything for granted. I'm not saying that we're doing that, but some years, some teams have your number. That's how it goes."
Trout went 2 for 3 with a third-inning double, but left the game after flying out in the fifth. The Angels' All-Star outfielder reached base for the 40th straight game, extending the majors' longest current streak.
"It's all right. I'm just sore," said Trout, second in the AL at with a .333 average. "It's not like it popped or anything. It was just a little grabbing, so it shouldn't be too serious. ... I'll see how it is tomorrow. I came out just because I didn't want it to get worse. It's definitely frustrating when you can't be out there. For me as a speed guy, I've got to take care of my legs."
Houston boosted its lead to 7-3 in the eighth on Jose Altuve 's sacrifice fly. Trumbo trimmed the deficit with his two-run shot to left off Jordan Lyles , the Astros' scheduled Monday starter, who pitched 2 1-3 innings of relief before leaving with two runners on in the ninth.
Rookie Kevin Chapman got pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos to ground into a game-ending double play, earning his first career save.
Jason Vargas recovered from an awful beginning to his first home start in two months to pitch into the sixth for the Angels, allowing seven hits - all in the first three innings. The left-hander walked three and struck out three in his second start since returning from injury.
Hoes homered in his 19th major league game, drilling a one-out shot in the first inning.
NOTES: Lyles unexpectedly made his first relief appearance of the season. Porter said RHP Lucas Harrell will start the series opener at Texas on Monday night. ... Dominguez also had four hits July 31. ... Hamilton's triple was his first since May 21. ... Gutierrez, who made his major league debut with Houston in 2007, struck out four during his 1 2-3 innings.