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Hitting becoming a habit for Astros

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ANAHEIM -- The Astros went into Tuesday night's game at Angel Stadium with a streak of nine consecutive games with at least nine hits.

They're batting .299 in that stretch.

"I think it's a little contagious," said third baseman Matt Dominguez, who had two of the Astros' 10 hits in Monday's 5-2 win. "You see guys before you in the lineup battling and having good at-bats, it makes you want to keep it going."

The last time the Astros had a hit parade like this was from June 12-22, 2007, when they had at least nine hits 10 games in a row.

"I think we all had a pretty good plan going up there last night," Dominguez said of Monday's early assault against a hot pitcher, the Angels' Garrett Richards. Houston scored three runs off Richards in the first inning and added single runs in the second and third.

"Richards has great stuff, probably top five among the guys I've faced," Dominguez said. "He throws hard, and everything has a lot of movement. We went out there with our focus on forcing him to get the ball up."

Dominguez, in his second full season, had the third two-homer game of his career on Sunday, against the White Sox. Only four other Astros third basemen have had at least three multihomer games, a list topped by former Angels manager Doug Rader, who had six. Ken Caminiti (five), Morgan Ensberg (four) and Vinny Castilla (three) are the others on that list.

Dominguez leads the Astros in homers, with seven. He hit 21 in 2013, becoming at 23 the youngest Houston player to hit that many since Cesar Cedeno, then 23, hit 26 in 1974. Jimmy Wynn hit 22 in 1965, also at the age of 23.

But Dominguez also takes much pride in his defense. He was third in the American League in assists and total chances last season.

"They always say, 'If you hit they'll find a spot for you,'" he said. "I worked hard on my defense over the years in the Minors when sometimes I didn't hit as much as people thought I should."

Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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