ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels have a lonely island of power in the middle of their lineup, but opposing teams just can’t seem to navigate around it.
Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have combined to hit half of the Angels’ home runs this season and the two were at it yet again Friday night, sparking a big inning by driving in a combined five runs in Los Angeles’ 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
Trout had a three-run double and Pujols a two-run homer in the Angels’ six-run third inning, their biggest of the season.
“That’s a tough knockout punch,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It just looked like things unraveled.”
Getting a second consecutive strong start from right-hander Matt Shoemaker, the Angels rode their third-inning offensive outburst to a ninth victory in their last 14 games.
“I think there’s more to this club,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve seen some glimpses the last couple of weeks offensively. But we need every night to get on base and make things happen.”
The home run was the 570th of Pujols’ career, moving him past Rafael Palmeiro and alone into 12th on baseball’s all-time list. Pujols, 36, is now three behind Harmon Killebrew for 11th.
Shoemaker (3-5) had an 8.49 ERA in his first seven starts this season, but has now put together consecutive dominating efforts. After striking out a career-high 12 in 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start against Baltimore, he frustrated the Astros until the ninth inning.
Shoemaker struck out 11 without walking a batter, holding the Astros to seven hits, all singles. He left after allowing two hits with one out in the ninth. Cam Bedrosian gave up a two-run single to Colin Moran.
It more closely resembled the Shoemaker the Angels remember from 2014, when he went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA and not the one who had gone 9-14 with a 4.96 ERA the past two seasons.
“We always felt that at some point he was going to get back to where he was,” Scioscia said. “None of us feel that a couple of years ago was a fluke.
“We’re not at all surprised at these last two games he’s pitched. We were probably surprised about the inconsistency in some of the games last year and early this year.”
Matt Fiers (3-3) started for the Astros and retired the Angels in order the first two innings before coming undone in the third. The Angels had seven hits in the inning, but only two other hits the rest of the night.
“The first two innings, he was pretty sharp,” Hinch said. “And then things fell apart in the third.”
Fiers left with two outs in the fourth, charged with all seven runs. Right-hander Chris Deveniski held the Angels scoreless over the final 4 1/3 innings.
Rafael Ortega got the big third inning started with a double. Carlos Perez singled and Gregorio Petit walked to load the bases. After an RBI single by Kole Calhoun, Trout doubled to clear the bases. Pujols then followed with his 10th homer of the season to match Trout for the team lead. No other player on the Angels has more than three homers.
The rest was left to Shoemaker, who’s now struck out 23 in his last two starts. He said his turnaround was more a series of small adjustments than any one thing.
“Good focus, executing pitches, putting hitters away when you’re ahead,” he said. “We want to get on a roll and get it going. We know what kind of team we have and what we’re capable of.”
Astros: Gomez (bruised rib cage) is expected to play in all three games this weekend in his rehab assignment for Double-A Corpus Christi. Gomez, batting just .182 with no home runs and 46 strikeouts in 121 at-bats, is expected to be ready when eligible to come off the disabled list June 1.
Angels: RHP Tim Lincecum is scheduled to start in an extended spring game in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday before heading to Triple-A Salt Lake City. The Angels signed the two-time Cy Young winner on May 20 and hope he can join their rotation by mid-June. He had hip surgery in September.
Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-6) will again attempt to turn his season around Saturday against the Angels. The reigning AL Cy Young winner has a 5.92 ERA and allowed seven runs in six innings in his last start against the Rangers.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver (4-3) will try to continue his reinvention as a craftsman Saturday against the Astros. Weaver no longer throws as hard as he did early in his career, but is using his off-speed stuff for solid results. He will oppose a Houston team he is 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA against in nine career starts.