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Carter tweaked approach before going on tear

ANAHEIM -- Despite the tear he's been on for 2 1/2 months, Astros designated hitter Chris Carter has drawn just five intentional walks.

Two came Friday night, when Angels manager Mike Scioscia ordered Carter to be passed in the first inning and the fourth.

Asked if he was surprised by the first-inning intentional walk, Carter said: "No, because it made sense. There was a left-handed pitcher (C.J. Wilson) and a left-handed hitter behind me (Jason Castro)."

Scioscia said part of it had to do with the matchup and part with the streak Carter's been on. Since July 1, the Astros DH leads the majors in homers (23), slugging (.643), RBIs (55) and OPS (1.008). He's batted .295 in that span.

"He's on a pace to hit 42 to 43 home runs," Scioscia said, "but a lot of it had to do with the matchup."

Carter recalled that he had been walked intentionally in the first inning "in the Minor Leagues," but couldn't recall the specifics.

Asked one reason why his results have been so strong for such a sustained period, Carter said, "I just think it's working every day in the cage, and making a conscious effort to have those swings mean something. I take the same amount of swings, just a different approach."

He said a talk with hitting coach John Mallee helped him make that subtle, yet significant, change.

Carter was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the Angels.

Worth noting

• Interim manager Tom Lawless said he's continuing to bat rookie first baseman Jon Singleton eighth because "he doesn't need any more heat on him than he's got."

Singleton has 13 homers and 44 RBIs -- the most by an Astros rookie since Jeff Bagwell in 1991 -- but he's batting just .178 in 85 games.

"I'd like to see him get on a roll, like he did in Triple-A," Lawless said. "Right now, he's missing pitches he should hit."

Earl Bloom is a contributor to
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