Carlos Pena and Carlos Corporan hit home runs against C.J. Wilson and Jordan Lyles turned in his fourth impressive outing in a row for the Astros, who beat the Angels 5-4 on Sunday for the third consecutive time and extended their winning streak to a season-high five games.
"It says that we can beat anybody in this league. If we can compete with the Angels, then we can compete with anybody," reliever Hector Ambriz said after getting the save. "We've attacked their whole lineup with fastballs, curve balls and off-speed pitches and haven't fallen behind in the count. You've got to respect what they can do, but we've got to respect our stuff, too."
The Astros, who entered this four-game wraparound series with an AL-worst 17-37 record, have won six of nine meetings with the Angels after coming over from the NL. Two of those wins have come at Wilson's expense, after the two-time All-Star had won his first five decisions against Houston with a 3.37 ERA.
"Sports are very hard to predict," Wilson said. "There's a lot of people over the years who have tried to be experts at projecting things, and I don't think these people have much of a shot past a coin flip in really predicting what's going to go on -- because there's so many factors.
"I don't think they're playing over their heads against us. They're a major league team," he added. "I mean, you watch the way Bo Porter manages. He forces action. Guys are stealing, guys are bunting, and they have a lot of players on their team with tools. They've got some relievers that can come in and strike people out, and they've got some guys that can hit home runs."
A victory against the Angels in Monday night's series finale would give the Astros their first four-game sweep of any club since Aug, 23-26, 2010, at Philadelphia -- and their first six-game winning streak since July 27-Aug. 3, 2010 (seven in a row).
"We just haven't played well against them. That's really what it comes down to," Wilson said. "It's frustrating because we've been put in the position to win some of these games and we have not come through. The frustrating thing about our season so far is that we haven't really been consistent. Right now I'd say we're too up and down."
Lyles (3-1) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked one. The 22-year-old right-hander, who was promoted from Triple-A on May 2, has a 1.90 ERA over his past four starts after giving up eight runs through four innings in a 12-7 loss against Texas.
The Angels threatened in the eighth against Brad Peacock, who gave up a double to Albert Pujols and a walk to Mark Trumbo with none out. But Josh Hamilton flied to center on the right-hander's next pitch and Howie Kendrick grounded into a double play.
The Astros loaded the bases with none out in the ninth against Garrett Richards, and Matt Dominguez delivered their final two runs with a single. Richards left the game with a twisted left ankle after he charged in on rookie Brandon Barnes' attempted suicide-squeeze bunt and flipped to Hank Conger for the tag on Trevor Crowe.
Porter sent Peacock back to the mound in the ninth after he had already pitched 1 1/3 innings, and the right-hander gave up a two-run homer by Conger after a leadoff walk to Alberto Callaspo. But Ambriz came on and got three outs for his second save in four attempts after regular closer Jose Veras closed out the first two games.
"It was nail-biting time there," said Porter, who used Veras five of the previous six days. "Ambriz came in and did a tremendous job to close that game out. I tried to do everything I could to stay away from him because our bullpen has been getting taxed. But once Peacock gave up the two-run homer, we knew that it wouldn't take Ambriz long to get ready."
Wilson (4-4) gave up three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Pena sent the left-hander's first pitch of the fifth inning barely over the 18-foot wall in right field for his fifth home run and second in five games.
Barnes led off the Houston fifth with a double and scored on a two-out single by J.D. Martinez. The Angels cut the margin to 3-2 in the bottom half, as Trumbo led off with his 13th homer.
Corporan drove an 0-1 pitch to left-center with two outs in the first for his fourth home run. The Angels tied it in the third with an RBI single by Pujols, after Mike Trout reached on a strikeout-wild pitch that sent former Astros prospect
- Lyles was 5-12 with a 5.09 ERA in 25 starts with the Astros last season.
- The Astros have the first overall pick in Thursday's draft for the second successive year, after selecting SS Carlos Correa in 2012. The only other teams with that distinction since the draft began in 1965 were Tampa Bay in 2007-08 (LHP David Price and SS Tim Beckham), and Washington in 2009-10 (RHP Stephen Strasburg and OF Bryce Harper).
- The switch-hitting Corporan struck out his next three times up after the home run.