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Norris, Astros blank slumping Angels

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Associated Press
4/13/2013 1:59:11 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Bud Norris pitched three-hit ball over seven innings, Rick Ankiel drove in three runs, leading the Houston Astros to a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday in their first meeting as AL West rivals.

Justin Maxwell hit his first home run of the season, helping the Astros win their third in a row after six straight losses

Norris (2-1) struck out five and walked two.

Rookie manager Bo Porter used three relievers in the ninth to clinch the combined four-hitter.

The Angels, coming off a three-game sweep by Oakland, have lost five straight. Singles by Brendan Harris, Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger were their only hits against Norris.

The Angels are off to a 2-8 start, matching the worst in franchise history. The inaugural 1961 club also lost eight of its first 10.

Tommy Hanson (1-1) threw 108 pitches through five innings, giving up five runs, eight hits and two walks.

The Angels, who have a $148.5 million payroll, have had their veteran rotation struggle through the first four games of this homestand.

Hanson, C.J. Wilson, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas have allowed a combined total of 20 earned runs, 34 hits, four homers and 10 walks in 21 2-3 innings.

Ace Jered Weaver is on the disabled list for at least a month because of a broken bone in his left arm.

Garrett Richards will come out of the bullpen to make his first start of the season and 13th of his career on Saturday.

Hanson gave up hits to his first four batters and threw 27 pitches before retiring anyone.

Jose Altuve singled and came all the way home on a drive to right-centre by Justin Maxwell, who was thrown out trying for a triple. TV replays showed that umpire Laz Diaz got the call wrong, as Luis Jimenez took the relay throw from second baseman Howie Kendrick and applied the tag after Maxwell's foot hit the bag.

Jason Castro and Chris Carter followed with singles, and both runners advanced when Hanson attempted to pick off Castro and shortstop Brendan Harris mishandled the throw for an error.

A full-count walk to Carlos Pena loaded the bases for J.D. Martinez, who struck out. But Ankiel grounded a two-run single just past shortstop on Hanson's 35th pitch, giving Houston a 3-0 lead.

Maxwell, who led the Astros last season with 18 homers, made it 4-0 in the second inning with a drive on a 2-1 pitch. It was the 18th home run given up in 90 1-3 innings this season by a beleaguered Angels pitching staff that has a 5.38 ERA.

Ankiel, playing for his fifth big league club after signing a minor league contract with the Astros and getting an invite to spring training, completed the scoring with an RBI double in the third.

NOTES: The Angels paid tribute to their late public address announcer, David Courtney, with a pregame moment of silence. Courtney died Nov. 29. His widow, Janet, threw a ceremonial first pitch -- wearing a No. 19 Angels jersey that signified the years her husband spent behind the microphone at the "Big A." ... The Astros had a 3-3 interleague record against the Angels and were 1-2 in their only series at Anaheim in June 2007. ... Jimenez, the Angels' top rookie in spring training, made his major league debut after getting called up from Triple-A Salt Lake because of injuries to 3B Alberto Callaspo and SS Erick Aybar. OF J.B. Shuck was optioned to Salt Lake. ... Astros 1B Brett Wallace, 0 for 9 with five strikeouts against Hanson, sat out for the second straight game. He is 1 for 21 this season with 17 strikeouts.

Bud Norris (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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