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HOU@LAA: Harrell fans five over 5 2/3 innings

Astros manager Bo Porter is not ignoring the standings.

He knows his team has lost five games in a row and just wrapped up its first foray into the American League West with only four wins in 15 tries.

Yes, Porter watched his team finish a nine-game road trip with a 3-6 record, but the Astros are going back home and the manager still believes the best is yet to come.

"The league is also getting used to us as we're adjusting," Porter said. "It's a long season and we will see each other a lot. This is our first trip through. I'm sure we'll get a good read as we get deeper into the season."

The Astros defeated the Rangers on Opening Day and won three games in a row over a span of two series against the Mariners and Angels last week. They have struggled ever since.

"A win is big every day whether it is the first day of a road trip or the last," Porter said. "These guys have handled it well. They come to the park every day in high spirits. It doesn't carry over."

It will be up to Lucas Harrell to help get the Astros back into the win column on Friday against the Indians. Harrell allowed eight earned runs to Oakland on April 7, but has given up only one earned run in each of his other two starts this season.

What's more, Harrell struck out five and gave up six hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels in his last outing. His lone blemish was a solo home run to Josh Hamilton.

"My goal is to keep us in the game," Harrell said. "We took the two-run lead early and I tried to keep us in the lead and that's why in the situation with Hamilton, I felt like I could challenge him there. When you make a mistake to a good hitter like that, he's going to hit the ball a long way."

Right-hander Brett Myers, who pitched parts of three seasons for Houston, is scheduled to take the hill for Cleveland on Friday.

The Indians enter Friday's game on a four-game losing streak, and like Porter, manager Terry Francona isn't ignoring his club's slump this early in the season. The Tribe hasn't cracked the three-run mark during the cold streak, batting a combined .195.

"Always. You have to be strong enough to fight through it," Francona said. "As a hitter, you're going to look up and see your batting average where you're not comfortable, and you've got to be strong enough to still walk up to the plate with your chest out, knowing that you're a good hitter. I try to remind guys that all the time. It's the same with ERA."

Although he isn't ignoring the record, Francona added he doesn't want his club thinking about the standings as they approach the plate Friday.

"You're looking at it every day, so you've got to be strong enough in what you believe in to just stay in the moment," Francona said. "The best way to rectify that is to play a good game tonight. If you do that enough, you look up and things are right where you want them to be. If you try to get ahead of yourself, and think about your record, and think about next week, that doesn't necessarily work."

Indians: Chisenhall makes adjustments
• Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was locked in from the plate coming out of Spring Training, but has struggled this season. The left-hander has a .200 average, but Francona and pitching coach Ty Van Burkleo might have discovered the problem.

"All spring he was thinking left-center," Francona said. "Not necessarily wanting to hit the ball there, but being lined up so he could cover the plate. And he did it extremely well. I think as he continued into the season, his batting stance started to close off more and more and more, and I don't think he realized it."

"Ty's trying to get him back more to even. Now, setting his sights on left-center is great. I just think it all of a sudden became a little more physical also, and he got himself into a position where, for him to get to the ball and square it up, he had to get more out front than he normally does."

Indians: Giambi feeling sharp
• After becoming the third-oldest player to homer for Cleveland on Wednesday, designated hitter Jason Giambi said he has been pleased with his swing early on this season.

"I've been excited where my swing has been for missing that time at the beginning of the year," Giambi said. "I was kind of a little bit surprised. When I got in there that first game [Sunday], I didn't quite know where I'd be. I took out of there a lot of confidence with where my swing was at.

"I was excited about [the home run]. It's nice to get a little results and get the first one out of the way."

 

Astros: Altuve remains hot
• Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 on Wednesday against Oakland and is hitting .365 for the season. He has reached base safely in 14 of 15 games this season.

• Chris Carter finished the nine-game road trip with 13 hits, four home runs and nine RBIs.

• The Astros have hit 15 homers in 15 games this month.

Worth noting
• Astros first baseman Carlos Pena is one of three active players with at least 25 bunt hits and at least 250 career home runs. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and St. Louis outfielder Carlos Beltran have also accomplished the feat.

• Myers has struggled in his last two starts and has allowed eight home runs this season.

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