While his overall numbers don't stand out, the Houston Astros' Bud Norris has baffled the Los Angeles Angels this year.
Norris tries to again shut down the visiting Angels, who look for their recent success to carry over in Friday night's series opener.
After allowing three runs in six innings during Saturday's 4-3 road win over the Chicago Cubs, Norris (5-7, 3.60 ERA) is 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA in his last four outings.
The right-hander, though, has looked like a different pitcher in three matchups against the Angels (36-43) this year, winning each while posting a 0.43 ERA.
"I'm sure they're going to find some things on me here soon," Norris told MLB's official website. "They're a good lineup, they know what they're doing over there, but I've got to stick to my strengths and keep going out there and doing what I'm doing because obviously, it's been working so far."
Norris continued his mastery in the series June 1, striking out six over six innings of four-hit ball in a 2-0 win at Los Angeles.
"Every time he pitches against us he's got his 'A' stuff," said Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who's 4 for 10 with three doubles versus Norris. "He was hitting his spots early and locating, and his secondary pitches were good."
Another dominant effort could be hard to come by against an Angels team that's won nine of 14 while hitting .308. Los Angeles is on the verge of a season-best fifth consecutive road win after beating Detroit 3-1 in 10 innings Thursday.
Trout, eight for his last 16 with a homer and five RBIs, had four hits while Albert Pujols delivered the go-ahead double.
"We just need to continue to fight and go to Houston and get ready to play," Pujols said. "We did it last time and caught a little funk, but we just need to continue to swing the bat and continue to pitch."
Owners of the AL's worst record, the Astros (30-49) have taken six of seven from Los Angeles, including the last four while allowing eight runs.
Houston enters this three-game set having won eight of 13 after beating St. Louis 4-3 on Wednesday.
"Those guys have a tremendous lineup and a deep pitching staff," catcher Jason Castro said. "For us to come out and battle and hang with them ... it's reassuring and it's good for the morale around here."
Houston's Chris Carter has two homers, five RBIs and nine runs in his last 10 games, a stretch during which he's hit .361 - significantly higher than his season average of .231.
"His at_bats have gotten extremely disciplined from a standpoint of he's attacking the pitches that he should attack - not expanding (the zone) as often as he was earlier in the year, and he's putting together some really good at_bats," manager Bo Porter said of Carter, whose 108 strikeouts are a major league high.
Carter has hit safely in nine of 10 games versus Los Angeles this year, going 11 for 32 (.344) with five homers and 11 RBIs. He's 1 for 3 with a homer against scheduled starter Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.36).
Filling in for the injured Jason Vargas, Williams allowed a season high-tying five runs and eight hits in six innings Saturday in a 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh. The right-hander gave up both runs and three hits in seven innings opposite Norris earlier this month, dropping to 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA versus Houston.
The Associated Press News Service
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