Having put their unsightly losing streak to rest, the Los Angeles Angels still have a ways to go to get where they want to be.
The Angels (3-8) needed some late-game heroics to avoid the franchise's first-ever 2-9 start, with Albert Pujols coming through with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win Saturday. Josh Hamilton also hit his first home run with the Angels, connecting on a solo shot in the sixth inning to help put the brakes on the team's five-game skid. He had gone 37 at-bats without a homer for his new club and entered the game hitting .179 this season.
"It's good to get the first one out of the way, and also get a walkoff win. The combination of both was very exciting," Hamilton said. "When I looked up and saw the crowd give me an ovation, I went, 'Whew.'
"But more than anything, we want to start racking up some Ws."
To do so, the Angels are going to have to continue to get starting pitching performances like Saturday's. Garrett Richards - filling in for the injured Jered Weaver - went 6 1-3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks. It wasn't spectacular, but it was the longest outing by a Los Angeles starter this year, showing just how unreliable the staff has been thus far.
Even with Richards' performance, Angels starters are 1-5 with a 5.98 ERA, and Wilson hasn't helped matters. He didn't record a decision in two starts while allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits and seven walks over 12 innings.
"We're all just super-competitive people within ourselves," Wilson said after his last start, a 9-5 loss to Oakland on Tuesday. He needed 43 pitches just to get through the first inning. "I was determined to have a better start than I did (last week) in Cincinnati, and it turned out to be the same result."
Opposing Wilson for Houston will be Philip Humber, who owns a 3.09 ERA through two starts but is 0-2 as Houston was shut out both times.
"Our job is to go out there and put up as many zeros as we can," Humber told the team's official website after a 3-0 loss at Seattle last Monday. "We know we have a talented club here, and it's just a matter of time until guys start putting some runs together, and I have confidence these guys are going to do that."
Humber may have missed his chance to benefit from Houston's mini-offensive outburst. The Astros (4-7) followed his last start by scoring 29 runs on 48 hits over a three-game win streak, then managed four runs on four hits in Saturday's loss.
Several Angels have had success in their limited opportunities against Humber, with Mike Trout going 2 for 4 with a home run while Pujols is 2 for 4 with a double and a homer.
Wilson is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA in four career starts against Houston.