ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Truth be told, Matt Shoemaker was considered more "organizational depth" than starting rotation material before the season.
After all, the Los Angeles Angels made a big trade in the offseason, landing Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago and putting them in their starting rotation.
Shoemaker was relegated to the bullpen to start the season and has been sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake twice. But struggles by Santiago and an injury to Skaggs created opportunities for Shoemaker, and he's taking advantage of them.
He rebounded from the worst start of his career with six strong innings Thursday night, leading the Angels to a 5-2 win over the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium.
Shoemaker was scorched for eight runs and 11 hits on June 27 in Kansas City, marking the only start of his career in which he gave up more than three earned runs.
He responded with a nice effort against the Astros, giving up two runs, seven hits and three walks to improve to 6-2. As a starter, he is 6-1 with a 3.79 ERA.
"You never know how a player is going to respond to the major leagues," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Shoemaker, who is 50-40 with a 4.52 ERA in seven minor league seasons. "Some guys have great minor league careers and come up and never really get on track. And some guys maybe get that opportunity and run with it. I'm not going to say I'm surprised because Matt has the potential to do what he's doing.
"The fact that he's doing it, and doing it in a role that we need so badly, says a lot about his makeup and character and hopefully it'll continue."
With his seven strikeouts Thursday, Shoemaker set an Angels record with 57 strikeouts in his first 10 career starts, surpassing the previous record of 56 by Bo Belinsky in 1962.
"I don't put any labels on it," Shoemaker said when asked if he considered himself a strikeout pitcher. "But I know if I can use all four pitches and pitch down in the zone, and set up hitters, I know they'll come."
Third baseman David Freese had two hits, including a two-run double in a decisive four-run fourth inning for the Angels. Center fielder Mike Trout and second baseman Howie Kendrick also had two hits each for the Angels, who remain hot at home.
The Angels have won seven in a row and 13 of 14 at Angel Stadium. At 27-14, they have the best home record in the majors.
Shoemaker got help from the bullpen, as Kevin Jepsen (seventh inning), Jason Grilli (eighth) and Joe Smith (ninth, 10th save) closed it out.
Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer (2-7) gave up five runs, nine hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, and after the game was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for reliever Josh Fields.
"Obie gave us everything he had; he battled," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Even look at the fourth inning when he gave up the four runs, one of those ground balls doesn't get by (shortstop Marwin) Gonzalez and it's a different ballgame. But that's the nature of the beast."
The Astros had eight hits, three of them by Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, who increased his major league-leading hit total to 121. Catcher Jason Castro, batting in the No. 2 spot behind Altuve, had two hits. But the Astros' 3-4-5 hitters -- George Springer, Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez -- went a combined 1 for 11.
"It seemed like we just were not able to get the big hit," Porter said. "We had guys on base and had opportunities but couldn't get the big hit. And David Freese got the big hit for them."
Kendrick gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single. But the Astros scored twice in the third inning to go up 2-1, the key hit being Altuve's double.
The Angels regained the lead in the fourth inning after stringing together four consecutive hits and a sacrifice fly with one out. Designated hitter. C.J. Cron had an RBI single, Freese had a two-run double and catcher Chris Iannetta hit the sacrifice fly to put the Angels on top 5-2.
NOTES: Angels CF Mike Trout needs one more home run before the All-Star break to become the 13th player in major league history to hit at least 20 home runs before the break in his age 22 season or earlier. ... Astros 2B Jose Altuve began the day leading the American League in hits (118), stolen bases (37) and batting average .343. If he maintains the lead in each through the All-Star break, he would become the second player since 1957 to do so. The other was Ichiro Suzuki in 2003. ... Since Astros RF George Springer hit his first major league homer on May 8, his 16 home runs rank third in the majors behind Edwin Encarnacion (22) and Nelson Cruz (17).