ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Houston Astros haven’t won many games, but at least they weren’t beating themselves until fielding errors by first baseman Chris Carter and shortstop Jonathan Villar led to five unearned runs.
Losing pitcher Scott Feldman took most of the blame, anyway, following his 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“We’ve been doing a great job of catching the ball, and tonight I feel like I really let the guys down,” Feldman said. “From the get-go I was leaving stuff over the middle, leaving stuff up and missing my spots by four feet.”
Feldman (2-2) was charged with eight runs and nine hits in four-plus innings in his third start off the DL, after missing three turns because of biceps tendinitis.
“I felt pretty good – it was just a matter of not making too many good pitches when I needed to,” Feldman said. “And when I was missing my spots and hanging curveballs, those guys made me pay because they’re pretty good at what they do. And they kept on the attack.”
Houston’s starting pitchers had allowed just six unearned runs combined in 265 innings entering Tuesday. In Feldman’s 13 previous career starts against the Angels, he had yielded only one unearned run – the result of a throwing error by then-Texas batterymate Taylor Teagarden.
“We had been able to stay away from what I call `high-leverage’ impact errors. And the two errors today led to runs, so that hurt us,” manager Bo Porter said.
The Angels, who lead the majors with 35 first-inning runs, grabbed a 3-0 advantage after Carter misplayed a short-hop grounder by Albert Pujols. Feldman walked the next two batters, and David Freese whacked a 1-1 pitch to left-center for a two-run single. Hank Conger then singled home Howie Kendrick.
“Sure, we had the error, but we had a runner at first and two outs, and I could have gotten out of that inning,” Feldman said. “Hopefully next time, I’ll be able to pick it up a little bit my next start and get back on track.”
Freese had a season-high four RBIs after getting reinstated from the disabled list, and Tyler Skaggs pitched seven solid innings to help end Houston’s three-game winning streak.
Freese was in the Angels’ lineup for the first time since May 2, when he sustained a non-displaced fracture in the middle finger of his right hand after getting hit by a pitch from Texas’ Colby Lewis. The 2011 World Series MVP had as many as four RBIs twice last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, including a grand slam against Milwaukee.
“I did what I had to do in Salt Lake to prove I can make every play,” Freese said. “The swing feels good. The throwing, you still feel it, but you’re able to do everything. I felt good before I got hurt. There were some things that I was working on, and I went to Salt Lake and kind of picked up where I left off. I’m excited to get back in there. It felt longer than two weeks, that’s for sure.”
Mike Trout had three RBIs in his second game of the season as a designated hitter, helping the Angels win for the ninth time in 12 games. Houston’s Darin Downs walked Erick Aybar with the bases loaded during the Angels’ three-run fifth, and Trout greeted Jerome Williams with a run-scoring infield hit.
Williams struck out Pujols to end the fifth, making him 0 for 8 with the bases loaded. But Freese doubled home a run against Williams in the sixth to make it 9-1.
Skaggs (4-1) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one. The only run against the left-hander came on a sacrifice fly by Matt Dominguez in the fourth.
“He attacked the zone with his fastball, and his breaking ball was pretty good,” Porter said. “Jose Altuve came into the dugout and said he was having trouble picking up the spin. So when Altuve’s having trouble picking up the spin, you know he’s throwing a good one.”
NOTES: The Astros (17-29) have won only once when scoring fewer than five runs. That was April 2, when they beat the Yankees 3-2 at Houston behind Jarred Cosart’s five scoreless innings. Last year, Houston won 17 games with fewer than five and finished 51-111. … Houston hasn’t won more than three in a row since a four-game stretch last Sept. 9-13, which was immediately followed by a season-ending 15-game losing streak. … Angels LF Josh Hamilton is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. He’s been out of the lineup since April 6, when he tore a ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base at Seattle.