Astros go for fourth straight win in opener vs. Angels

10:19 AM, Sep 13, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Houston Astros take aim at a fourth straight win on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Minute Maid Park.

Heading toward its third consecutive 100-loss season, Houston has played well of late with wins in five of its last eight games. The Astros picked up a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week, outscoring them 25-7 in the process.

"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," Houston manager Bo Porter said.

Taking the hill for the Astros on Friday will be lefty Dallas Keuchel, who is winless in his last four decisions. Keuchel's latest loss came on Friday in Oakland, as the Athletics ripped him for five runs and 10 hits in just 3 1/3 frames, dropping him to 5-9, while ballooning his ERA to 4.99.

"I felt like the slider was keeping them in check early in the count because they like to hack," Keuchel said after the outing. "Some of those base hits were just because they're strong enough to get them through the hole. It's just one of those days where nothing was going right, and everything was going wrong."

Houston has lost Keuchel's last seven starts.

The Angels, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Jason Vargas, who is 8-6 with a 3.76 ERA. Vargas did not get a decision on Sunday against Texas, as he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He also struck out eight in his team's 4-3 loss.

"Jason did a great job," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a tough lineup to get through, and it's hot. He needed a lot of pitches to get through five, but felt strong enough to finish six and looked good in the sixth inning."

Vargas has faced the Astros three times and is 0-1 against them with a 6.19 ERA.

Los Angeles enters this series on the heels of sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays. Scioscia's club has won six of their last eight.

Kole Calhoun homered in the Halos' 4-3 win on Thursday and 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.

Houston has won nine of its 16 games with the Angels this season.

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