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TEX@HOU: Keuchel goes solid 8 2/3, strikes out eight

Send the Astros to Southern California this season and they're nearly unstoppable.

Owning the worst record in baseball, Houston beat the Angels in Anaheim on Friday for the fifth straight time and is now 6-2 at Angel Stadium in 2013.

The Astros get another crack at extending the streak on Saturday when the teams meet for the second meeting of a three-game set featuring the bottom two squads in the American League West.

The Astros swept a four-game set against Los Angeles at the beginning of June, but when they played host a few weeks later, the Angels swept them in three games. Clearly, the Astros enjoy the setting at Angel Stadium.

Houston's ability to win in Anaheim has contributed to a disappointing season for the Angels, who sit 16 games out of first place with six weeks left in the season.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he's not looking to see his team roll over, especially with the Astros' success providing an easy motivational tool this weekend.

"We definitely don't feel sorry for ourselves and we definitely don't expect anybody to feel sorry for us. We've had a rough year," Scioscia said. "It's important for us to keep taking the field with purpose and move forward and win ballgames, and that's what we're going to focus on."

If the Angels are to beat Houston at home Saturday, they'll likely need a strong outing from starting pitcher Garrett Richards, who continues to shine in place of Joe Blanton.

Against the Yankees on Monday night, the righty was the tough-luck loser after pitching eight innings of two-run ball. In his last four starts, he has a 2.42 ERA.

The Astros know all about good starting pitching since the All-Star break.

Houston starters have posted a 3.60 ERA in the team's past 24 games. That number's been helped by a six-man rotation, which the Astros have employed since the start of this month.

Dallas Keuchel will be the beneficiary of that extra rest on Saturday. The lefty pitched out of the bullpen at various points this season but has been among Houston's most consistent starters.

He tossed 8 2/3 innings against Texas his last time out, allowing six runs.

But that total was misleading, as he surrendered just one earned run in the first eight frames and only stayed on for the ninth because Houston was thin in relief after its bullpen was shelled over the previous few games.

He won't have to worry about the high pitch count catching up with him Saturday with the Astros' bullpen rested and with six days between starts.

"At this point in the season, we have many youngsters that are getting to innings limits as far as number of innings they've thrown -- and not to mention this is the first time they've thrown this many innings at the Major League level, which comes with a whole different kind of stress than you would get in the Minor Leagues," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "The extra day of rest is going to do these guys good."

Angels: Bourjos returns from DL
Though his impact was minimal in Friday's loss, Peter Bourjos was just happy to see the field at this point.

Prior to the series opener against Houston, he was activated from the disabled list and infielder Tommy Field was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Bourjos batted ninth and played center field Friday night, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Still, the outfielder is hitting .326 with a .384 on-base percentage this season, but he's been limited to 41 games.

"It's been a frustrating two years to say the least," Bourjos said. "Going back to last year and not playing a lot and then this year, having an opportunity to play and being hurt because of it."

Bourjos has spent time on the DL with a strained hamstring and most recently with a fractured right wrist.

Astros: Harrell settling in the 'pen
One member of the club's bullpen seems to have turned a corner during this West Coast road trip. Righty Lucas Harrell, who was the Astros' best pitcher a year ago, appears to be settling into his long-relief role.

He pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings Thursday in Oakland and picked up in the win in relief with a scoreless inning Wednesday.

"I've been missing over the plate a lot with some pitches, and just to get back to what I was doing last year and pitching inside more and working in my other pitches when I need it," Harrell said. "I kind of got in a rhythm the other day, and I felt like I was throwing the ball better than I had been in the past month. It was definitely good for me."

Harrell hasn't been a regular fixture in the rotation since July 5 against Texas, when he allowed seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He made 20 starts for the Astros this year, allowing two or fewer runs 11 times.

Worth noting
• Tommy Hanson pitched five innings in his start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. There is no timetable for how long he will be in Salt Lake City.

• Five of Houston's last 13 road wins have come against the Angels. The Halos are the only AL West team the Astros have a winning record against this season.

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