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Keuchel drops season debut
Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel wipes his face after giving up a single to Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton in the third inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
HOUSTON (AP) — Tyler Skaggs's Angels debut could not have gone much better.
The left-hander threw eight strong innings and Josh Hamilton hit a two-run home run as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Houston Astros 5-1 on Saturday night.
Skaggs (1-0) allowed one run - none earned - on four hits with five strikeouts. Skaggs was acquired in the offseason from Arizona in a trade that sent outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks.
"I was excited for my first game with the Angels," Skaggs said. "I have pitched in the big leagues before. I took that mindset that I have been here before. The team needs to get in the win column again. A lot of different things to stay relaxed out there."
Skaggs became one of just 13 pitchers in Angels history to go at least eight innings while allowing no earned runs in first start for the team and the first since Shawn Broskie on May 1, 1995, at Toronto.
Skaggs, who posted a 2-3 record with 5.12 ERA with the Diamondbacks last year, said he threw a two-seam fastball Saturday night - a pitch he had not thrown in spring training.
"The thing is that I haven't thrown the two-seamer at all, and today, I broke it out," Skaggs said. "I threw it 90 percent of the time. That's why you saw all those 90-91 instead of 93-94. They kept swinging at it, so why not continue to throw it and get outs early in the count?"
Skaggs said the changeup and curveball were also good and everything was clicking.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said all of Skaggs' pitches were working but it started with his ability to command the fastball.
"He had a great two-seamer going and once he was able to get that into spots everything else opened up for him." Scioscia said. "He threw some terrific change-ups, some really good curveballs. They've got some right-handed hitters that are really strong hitters and you've got to make some pitches to them. He did and got through it well."
Hamilton followed David Freese's run-scoring single with his second homer in as many days, extending the lead to 4-1 in the fifth off Dallas Keuchel.
Hamilton had three hits and is now hitting .352 against the Astros with 16 home runs and 41 RBI.
"I don't think it's necessarily the team," Hamilton said. "I love playing at this park. Before it was a rivalry thing - Texas and Houston. Maybe that helped a little bit. I can't pinpoint one thing."
Keuchel (0-1) allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts over five innings.
"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."
Kole Calhoun extended the lead to 5-1 on a run-scoring single in the eighth off Chad Qualls.
Houston, which dropped its third straight, 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.
Houston manager Bo Porter said the Astros need to get things going offensively after being outscored 16-2 in the first two games of the series.
"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 of Skaggs. "He took advantage of it. Offensively, definitely need to get things going and score some runs."