HOUSTON (AP) - The big-money Los Angeles Angels are in such a slump they can't even handle the lowly Houston Astros.
Bud Norris pitched into the ninth inning and Chris Carter homered for the second straight game to help the Astros to a 3-1 win over the Angels on Wednesday night.
The victory gives Houston its third series win of the season. The Angels dropped to 4-13 away from Anaheim. It is their fourth straight loss and they have lost 11 of their past 14 games.
The Angels have a payroll of more than $142 million, while Houston has the lowest in the league at under $25 million.
``When we're not doing enough offensively, it comes down to getting breaks, and they haven't been falling our way,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``You have to create your own breaks, your own momentum and your own margin of error, and that all comes on doing things on a more consistent basis.'
The Angels are 11-22 overall, tying their worst start in franchise history. They had the same record after 33 games in 1969 and 1976.
``You just hope that the offense is going to provide enough for the pitchers to compete, but it just didn't happen on the offensive side,' Mark Trumbo said.
Marwin Gonzalez and Jimmy Paredes hit RBI doubles in the third before Carter connected on his team-leading eighth homer in the fifth inning to make it 3-0.
Norris (4-3) allowed nine hits and one run in eight-plus innings.
He was chased by consecutive singles by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to start the ninth.
Closer Jose Veras retired Mark Trumbo before plunking Josh Hamilton to load the bases. But Houston turned its fourth double play of the game to end it and give Veras his fourth save.
Angels starter Joe Blanton (0-6) allowed eight hits and three runs in 6 2-3 innings to remain winless this season.
``It's a team game, and our goal is to win games,' Blanton said. ``I'm not happy right now, but it does feel better to contribute and at least give us a chance to win. The first couple of starts, I wasn't doing that. But still, it's tough to be upbeat right now.'
Norris is the first Astros pitcher to reach the eighth inning this season and the performance was much-needed on a staff that has been plagued by short outings.
The slumping Hamilton broke a 20-game home run drought when he launched a solo homer into the seats in left field with one out in the seventh to get Los Angeles within 3-1. It was his first long ball since April 14, and came exactly a year after he hit four homers in a game against Baltimore.
``Our pitchers getting big outs has to continue all year,' Scioscia said. ``Controlling that is challenge number one. We did that tonight, and the next step is obviously getting into our offense. We didn't get that done tonight.'
Matt Dominguez hit a ground-rule double that bounced on the low wall in right field with one out in the third inning. The play was reviewed after Houston manager Bo Porter argued it was a home run, but the call was upheld.
Dominguez advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double to shallow left field by Gonzalez to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Paredes made it 2-0 with a two-out RBI double which sailed down the right field line just out of reach of a leaping Trumbo and into right field.
Paredes, who played his first game with the Astros on Tuesday after being promoted from Triple-A, also doubled in the eighth inning. He has three doubles and two RBIs in two games.
Jason Castro drew a one-out walk after the double by Paredes in the eighth. Pinch hitter Trevor Crowe reached on a fielder's choice on a bunt and Paredes was thrown out at home on the play.
Carter led off Houston's fifth with his towering shot, which bounced high on the wall above the Crawford Boxes in left field to push the lead to 3-0.
The Astros, who lead the majors with 46 double plays, turned them in the first, fifth and eighth innings to help out Norris. The fourth inning ended when Trumbo got caught stealing second base.
NOTES: The series wraps up on Thursday when Houston's Lucas Harrell opposes left-hander Jason Vargas. ... Los Angeles reliever Ryan Madson, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, is heading to Arizona for extended spring training. Scioscia said he'll probably pitch in two games there before moving to the California League to continue his work. ``Obviously the process is not complete with Ryan, he's got to see how he bounces back, see how his stuff plays, and it's definitely going to take some higher baseball to accomplish that,' Scioscia said. ... The Astros took struggling starter Philip Humber out of the rotation and replaced him with Dallas Keuchel, who will start on Friday against Texas.
The Associated Press News Service
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