ANAHEIM, Calif. - David Freese demonstrated just how much the Los Angeles Angels needed his bat in the lineup the past two weeks.
Freese had a season-high four RBIs after getting reinstated from the disabled list, Tyler Skaggs pitched seven solid innings and the Los Angeles Angels scored five unearned runs against Scott Feldman to beat the Houston Astros 9-3 on Tuesday night.
In three rehab games with Salt Lake, Freese was 2-for-10 with two home runs, four RBI and four walks.
"It's a lot better. It's pretty close to being where it should be," Freese said. "I did what I needed to do down in Salt Lake to prove that I could come back here and be in the lineup."
Freese was in the Angels' lineup for the first time since May 2, when he sustained a non-displaced fracture in the middle finger of his right hand after getting hit by a pitch from Texas' Colby Lewis. The 2011 World Series MVP had as many as four RBIs twice last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, including a grand slam against Milwaukee.
"He was put through the paces for the last week, both up here and when he went down there to rehab in Triple-A in his workouts and in the games," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's able to do the things were going to need him to do at third base."
Mike Trout had three RBIs in his second game of the season as a designated hitter, helping the Angels win for the ninth time in 12 games. It was only the third multi-RBI game this month for Trout.
Skaggs (4-1) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one, helping end Houston's three-game winning streak. The only run against the left-hander came on a sacrifice fly by Matt Dominguez in the fourth.
"He attacked the zone with his fastball, and his breaking ball was pretty good," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Jose Altuve came into the dugout and said he was having trouble picking up the spin. So when Altuve's having trouble picking up the spin, you know he's throwing a good one."
Feldman (2-2) was charged with eight runs and nine hits in four-plus innings in his third start off the DL, after missing three turns because of biceps tendinitis. The right-hander was undermined by his defence, as first baseman Chris Carter' and shortstop Jonathan Villar committed costly fielding errors in the first and fifth innings, respectively.
"We had been able to stay away from what I call 'High-leverage' impact errors. And the two errors today led to runs, so that hurt us," manager Bo Porter said.
Houston's starting pitchers had allowed just six unearned runs combined in 265 innings entering Tuesday. In Feldman's 13 previous career starts against the Angels, he had yielded only one unearned run — the result of a throwing error by then-Texas batterymate Taylor Teagarden.
"We've been doing a great job of catching the ball, and tonight I feel like I really let the guys down," Feldman said. "I felt pretty good — it was just a matter of not making too many good pitches when I needed to. And when I was missing my spots and hanging curveballs, those guys made me pay because they're pretty good at what they do. From the get-go I was leaving stuff over the middle, leaving stuff up and missing my spots by four feet. And they kept on the attack."
The Angels, who lead the majors with 35 first-inning runs, grabbed a 3-0 advantage after Carter misplayed a short-hop grounder by Albert Pujols. Feldman walked the next two batters, and Freese whacked a 1-1 pitch to left-centre for a two-run single. Hank Conger then singled home Howie Kendrick.
Trout drove in the Halos' next two runs with a sacrifice fly in the second and an RBI single off Feldman's left foot in the fourth.
Houston's Darin Downs walked Erick Aybar with the bases loaded during the Angels' three-run fifth, and Trout greeted Jerome Williams with a run-scoring infield hit.
Williams struck out Pujols to end the fifth, making him 0 for 8 with the bases loaded. But Freese doubled home a run against Williams in the sixth to make it 9-1.
NOTES: Angels LF Josh Hamilton is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. He's been out of the lineup since April 6, when he tore a ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base at Seattle. ... The Astros haven't won more than three in a row since a four-game stretch last Sept. 9-13, which was immediately followed by a season-ending 15-game losing streak. ... The Angels were 10-6 during Freese's absence.