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Astros gunning for sweep of Angels

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Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston Astros take on the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI

By Dan Arritt, The Sports Xchange

The Los Angeles Angels are hoping left-hander Andrew Heaney can provide another answer to Lance McCullers Jr.

Heaney outpitched McCullers when the Angels hosted the Houston Astros two months ago, and they'll go head to head again Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series at Angel Stadium.

The Angels (49-50) could use a shot in the arm after getting dominated by the Houston pitching staff through the first two games of the series. Los Angeles is below .500 for the first time since they were 0-1.

[post_ads]Dallas Keuchel no-hit the Angels for 6 2/3 innings on Friday night in a 3-1 win by the Astros. Justin Verlander continued his recent dominance of Los Angeles by blanking them for six innings on Saturday before the bullpen finished off the 7-0 victory.

Houston (66-35) is one game off its 101-game pace from last season, when it went on to win the World Series.

Heaney (5-6, 3.78) will try to prevent the sweep. He won the series opener against visiting Houston in his only other start against the Astros this season, allowing one run and four hits over eight innings in a 2-1 win at Angel Stadium on May 14.

McCullers was sharp as well in that game, limiting the Angels to two runs and four hits over six innings.

McCullers (10-4, 3.77) has pitched well against the Angels in his four-year career, especially over the past three seasons. He's 2-0 in seven starts in that span, owning a 1.47 ERA in 36 2/3 innings. Overall, he's 3-2 in 10 career starts against Los Angeles with a 1.90 ERA.

McCullers has already set a career high for wins this season but is hoping to shake off a rough performance in his most recent outing.

He allowed six runs in four innings on July 11 against the surging Oakland A's, walking five batters and hitting two in the 8-3 loss, his first defeat since May 26 at the Cleveland Indians.

"I wish I would have finished my first half off on a better note and given us a chance to win," he told the Houston Chronicle. "But I got 13 more of these things in the next half."

Heaney is 1-0 with an 0.95 ERA in three career starts against the Astros.

His other two came during the 2015 season, before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

This will be Heaney's 18th start of the season, matching a career high. He can also match a career best by notching his sixth win on the season.

Heaney was in position to get the win in his last outing, allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend, but the Dodgers tied the score in the bottom of the ninth before the Angels won 5-4 in 10 innings.

"Hit a wall earlier than I would like to and just kind of had to push through it, settle in, and be able to use what I had," he told MLB.com afterward.

Heaney was trying to win back-to-back starts for the first time since winning five in a row shortly after making his debut with the Angels three years ago.
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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Astros gunning for sweep of Angels
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