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Astros drop third straight in 5-1 loss to Angels

Sunday - 4/6/2014, 12:06am  ET

Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton watches the ball go over the wall for a two-run home run against the Houston Astros in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

JEREMY RAKES
Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) -- Dallas Keuchel's two-out luck finally ran out in the fifth inning of Saturday night's loss to the Angels.

After narrowly escaping jam after jam in the early innings, Keuchel gave up a two-run homer to Josh Hamilton in the fifth.

Hamilton's home run supported eight strong innings by Tyler Skaggs as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Houston Astros 5-1 on Saturday night.

The Angels stranded six runners in the first three innings, but with two outs and Hamilton made sure Keuchel didn't make it to the sixth inning. His homer soared over the head of Houston right fielder L.J. Hoes, and Keuchel shook his head in disappointment.

"If you're not on your A-game every pitch, that's what happens," Keuchel said. "I think that kind of took the wind out of our sails in the fifth."

Keuchel (0-1) allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts over five innings. Keuchel said he had success with that pitch against Hamilton last season, but admitted that Hamilton is "a different player so far," in 2014.

In 10 previous plate appearances against Keuchel, Hamilton hit .200 with five strikeouts, no homers and no walks. Hamilton had three hits and is now hitting .353 against the Astros with 16 home runs and 41 RBI.

Even without Hamilton's blast, however, the Astros' bats didn't lend the support for a win. For the second straight game, Houston failed to score more than one run, and the Astros have scored seven runs in four games since scoring six on opening day against the Yankees.

Astros manager Bo Porter said the continued struggles were equal parts due to a lack of consistency at the plate on Houston's behalf and a strong showing from Skaggs.

"He really had his breaking ball going, but at the same time, I think we helped him a little bit by expanding our strike zone," Porter said. "He took advantage of it. Offensively, we definitely need to get things going and score some runs."

Skaggs (1-0) allowed one run -- none earned -- on four hits with five strikeouts. Skaggs was making his Angels debut after being acquired in the offseason from Arizona in a trade that sent outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks.

"He kept us off-balance all night," said Hoes, who had the Astros' only hit that made it out of the infield. "He has a pretty good curve ball, and mixing a 95-mph fastball with a 78-mph curve ball will keep you off balance."

For the second straight game, the Astros were playing without starting outfielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro. Fowler was hospitalized with a stomach virus on Friday night but could play as early as Sunday, Porter said.

Castro is expected to return to catcher Sunday after sitting out two games with a bruised right foot.

Kole Calhoun extended the lead to 5-1 on a run-scoring single in the eighth off Chad Qualls.

Houston opened a 1-0 lead as Jose Altuve scored on an error by third baseman John McDonald in the first, but that lead quickly vanished as Howie Kendrick knotted the score at one with a run-scoring double in the second.

"You can't get too high or get too low this early in the season because we've still got a lot of baseball left," Hoes said. "Once everything starts clicking, we'll get on a roll and start winning some games."

NOTES: Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signed one-day contracts before the game and officially retired as Astros. . The Astros outrighted right-handed pitcher Chia-Jen Lo off the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers Saturday and will remain with Triple A Oklahoma City. . Houston will send right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman (0-1) to the mound Sunday as the Angels will counter with right-hander Jered Weaver (0-1).


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