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Preview: Astros at Angels

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 18 2014 08:35:41 PM CDT
Updated On: May 18 2014 08:35:42 PM CDT

After suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 season, Albert Pujols is healthy again and tied for second in the major leagues with 12 homers for the suddenly hot Los Angeles Angels. Pujols looks to continue climbing the all-time home run list when the Angels host the Houston Astros on Monday in the opener of their three-game series. Los Angeles has won eight of its last 10 contests, including a 6-2 triumph over Tampa Bay on Sunday in which Pujols hit a pair of blasts - the 503rd and 504th of his career.Pujols had hit only one homer in his previous 20 games but still is only three behind major-league leader Jose Abreu of the CHicago White Sox without having the injured Josh Hamilton hitting around him most of the season. The three-time National League MVP has belted 42 career blasts against the Astros, who have warmed up of late with four wins in five games. Dexter Fowler is 9-for-20 with six runs scored in his last six contests for Houston.TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, CSN (Houston), FSN West (Los Angeles)PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (4-2, 3.06 ERA) vs. Angels RH Garrett Richards (4-0, 2.42)Kuechel pitched his first career shutout on Tuesday against Texas, allowing fewer than three runs for the fifth time in eight starts this season. The 26-year-old Tulsa native has recorded 47 strikeouts and issued 11 walks in 53 innings, and teams are batting .244 against him. Howie Kendrick is 4-for-10 with a homer versus Kuechel, who yielded four runs over five frames in losing to the Angels on April 5 in his season debut.Richards has been outstanding this season, limiting six of eight opponents to two or fewer runs after blanking Philadelphia over seven innings on Wednesday. The 25-year old has given up only one homer in 52 frames while striking out 54 and holding batters to a .186 average. Chris Carter is 5-for-10 with a homer against Richards, who surrendered one run in five innings to beat Houston on April 4.WALK-OFFS1. Pujols is tied with Eddie Murray for 25th on the all-time home run list and trails Gary Sheffield (509) by five for the 24th spot. 2. Houston 2B Jose Altuve is third in the majors with 56 hits - 16 more than any other teammate. 3. Los Angeles 3B David Freese (fractured finger) and OF Kole Calhoun (ankle) are both close to returning to the lineup.PREDICTION: Angels 6, Astros 1

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