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Angels win 5th straight, rip Astros

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HOUSTON (AP) - Josh Hamilton turned from his locker and saw a group of reporters waiting to talk to him after Saturday's game against Houston.

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``I'm not answering any questions about hitting,'' he said.

That was just fine after the defensive show the Angels' struggling slugger put on in Los Angeles' 7-2 win over the Houston Astros.

Joe Blanton pitched seven sharp innings, and Howie Kendrick and Chris Iannetta both homered to lead the Angels.

Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar drove in two runs apiece in a big fourth inning, but it was Hamilton who everyone was talking about. He likely robbed Houston of two home runs with his glove.

``Through this whole struggle on the offensive side with him trying to find his comfort zone in the box, he's played great defense for us,'' Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. ``Great range, today he took away a couple home runs. Josh made them look easy.''

Blanton (2-10) tied season lows with three hits and two runs, pitching six scoreless innings before a two-run home run by Brett Wallace in the seventh.

He appreciated the work of Hamilton perhaps more than anybody.

``They were both great catches,'' Blanton said. ``Short field over there, he played the wall great, timed his jumps perfectly, made two outstanding plays.''

Kendrick's solo homer came in the fifth and Iannetta tacked on two with a home run in the eighth.

Houston starter Jordan Lyles (4-3) was done in by a four-run fourth inning by the Angels. He allowed five hits, four runs and walked two in four innings for his first loss against Los Angeles in three starts.

Blanton was perfect through 3 1-3 innings before a double by Jose Altuve. Altuve advanced to third on a wild pitch before a two-out walk to Chris Carter. Blanton escaped the jam when Hamilton leaped to grab a fly ball hit by J.D. Martinez at the wall in right field.

It was the second time Martinez hit the ball hard and came away empty. Mike Trout caught another drive from him on the warning track in left-center in the second inning.

Hamilton's second nifty defensive play came when he jumped and reached over the short wall in right field to catch a ball hit by Matt Dominguez in the seventh inning. Hamilton tumbled to the ground after the catch while Dominguez stood motionless and stared at him in disbelief.

He didn't think the first one would have been a home run, but was certain that the second one would have gone out. Hamilton, who joined the Angels this season after signing a five-year, $125 million contract, is hitting just .221 with 10 homers this season.

He was disappointed in a span earlier this season when he wasn't hitting well and he was struggling on defense.

``If you don't do it at the plate you want to do it in the field, and during that stretch I wasn't doing it either way,'' he said. ``I felt like I wasn't. But I feel better. Everybody keeps telling me to go out and play and have fun. Just relax.''

He did just that on Saturday, and said making plays like that ``are favorite things for me, more fun than hitting a home run.''

Mark Trumbo singled to get things going in the fourth inning. Lyles then started to struggle with control, plunking Howie Kendrick before walking Hamilton to load the bases. Callaspo's single scored Trumbo and Kendrick to make it 2-0.

Things continued to go downhill for Lyles when he hit Peter Bourjos with a pitch. Aybar's two-run single pushed the lead to 4-0, but he was out trying to stretch it into a double. Lyles finally escaped the inning when Trout lined out to Brandon Barnes in center field.

``I think it is one of those things where you try to make the perfect pitch, and you are falling behind and you try to make a better pitch and a better pitch and a better pitch. He could not get his fastball command back,'' Houston manager Bo Porter said of Lyles in the fourth inning.

Kendrick hit his ninth homer of the season to the seats in right field off Josh Fields with two outs in the fifth to make it 5-0.

Carter walked with no outs in the seventh before Wallace hit his first homer of the season with one out to the Crawford Boxes in left field to make it 5-2.

Bourjos bruised his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch, and he left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Trout took over in center field for Bourjos, and J.B. Shuck entered the game in left field.

Bourjos said he was sore after the game. Scioscia said he would have X-rays on the wrist as a precaution.

NOTES: Houston reliever Travis Blackley shoved Shuck when he tagged him in the back on a rundown eighth inning. He regretted the move soon afterward. ``I never try to be malicious toward anyone,'' he said. ``It was one of those things where the heat of the moment kind of got me. I don't mean anything by it.'' ... The series wraps up on Sunday when Los Angeles left-hander C.J. Wilson opposes Lucas Harrell. ... Someone from Houston's dugout yelled ``got it,'' causing Los Angeles catcher Hank Conger to let a foul ball he could have caught drop during Friday night's game. Porter wouldn't say who did it, but was unhappy with the incident and called Scioscia to apologize on Saturday morning. ``I apologized to him on behalf of our ball club,'' Porter said. ``It's not something that I condone, and I take full responsibility. It won't happen again.'' Scioscia wasn't that concerned about it. ``He called and I appreciated it but it's no big deal,'' he said.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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