ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Bud Norris never started a game against Los Angeles prior to this season. After three outings this year, the Angels have seen more than enough of the Houston Astros' right-hander.
Norris dominated the Angels' high-priced lineup again with six innings of four-hit ball and Chris Carter hit a two-run homer in the seventh against Jerome Williams, leading the Astros to a 2-0 victory on Saturday night.
"They're a great ballclub over there. You know who's in that lineup, and you know you've got to make good pitches," Norris said. "So the only way to play it is to just take the challenge."
Norris (5-4) struck out six, walked three and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to end a three-start winless stretch that includes a six-inning scoreless outing against Kansas City that resulted in a no-decision.
"Every time he pitches against us he's got his 'A' stuff," Angels center fielder Mike Trout said. "He was hitting his spots early and locating, and his secondary pitches were good. It was one of those nights. We see him good. I mean, we hit a couple of balls hard and had our opportunities, but it just didn't go our way tonight."
Norris became the first starting pitcher to beat the Angels three times before the All-Star break since 2001, when Oakland's Tim Hudson, Seattle's Freddy Garcia and Texas' Darren Oliver all did it. On April 12 at the "Big A," Norris allowed three hits over seven innings in a 5-0 victory. On May 8, he gave up a run and nine hits through eight innings en route to a 3-1 decision at Houston.
"I'm sure they're going to figure out some things about me soon" he said. "But I've got to stick to my strengths and keep doing what I'm doing because it's been working so far."
Rookie Jose Cisnero pitched two innings and Jose Veras got three outs for his 10th save in 13 attempts, helping extend Houston's winning streak to a season-high four games. It's their longest since a four-game stretch May last year.
"This group has come together," Norris said. "Day in and day out, these guys are picking each other up — from the bullpen to the bench players — and the coaching staff has pushed that out of us. Everybody is picking up their end of the bargain, and it's been pretty good to see."
Williams (4-2) held Houston to just three hits over seven innings and struck out six, after going 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his previous four starts.
Carlos Pena, the only Houston player to have batted against Williams in a regular-season game prior to Saturday, led off the Astros' second with a double and was stranded at third when Matt Dominguez flied out. The Astros didn't get another hit until the seventh, when J.D. Martinez singled with one out and Carter drove a first-pitch homer into the upper tier of the left field bullpen with two out for his 11th homer.
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