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HOU@TEX: Feldman throws seven shutout frames

The Astros certainly have a lot of confidence when they send veteran right-hander Scott Feldman to the mound.

Feldman, who will start Thursday's series finale against the Royals at Minute Maid Park, has been one of the best pitchers in the American League so far, going 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three starts. He leads the Majors in opponent's batting average (.106) and ERA.

He'll be trying to snap the Astros' three-game losing streak.

"I just always shoot for the same goals, try to throw as many innings as I can and keep the runs off the board," Feldman said. "Really just try to do the same stuff, just mix up all the pitches and get on the same page with [Jason] Castro or [Carlos] Corporan or whoever is catching."

Feldman threw seven scoreless innings Friday in Arlington, just two days following the death of his father. He was placed on the bereavement list and rejoined the team Tuesday after funeral services were held Monday in California.

"Even after the tough week and dealing with the family issue he's had to deal with, he was eager to get back here with the ballclub and just get back to his regular routine," manager Bo Porter said. "He said, 'Skip, I'm at my happiest when I'm at the ballpark.' It's great to get him back and he's had a heavy heart. He's handled it really well, watching him day to day and speaking with him day to day."

The Royals made a change in their pitching rotation for Thursday night's game. Right-hander James Shields will start in place of left-hander Bruce Chen, who has been bothered by tightness in his glute and will start Saturday at home against Minnesota.

Shields, in three career starts against the Astros, is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA, four walks and 22 strikeouts.

"We've been on a six-man rotation the last two or three times through because of the off-days," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We can get Bruce's back to calm down a little bit and move Shields up to a regular five and move [Jason] Vargas up to a regular five [days' rest] and slide Bruce in after Vargas."

Astros: Springer gets a hit in his debut
George Springer, who was called up prior to Wednesday's game against the Royals, went 1-for-5 in his Major League debut. He picked up an infield single in his second at-bat in the third inning and later struck out a pair of times, but he said he wasn't nervous.

"You just try to focus in and slow everything down and just go out and play," he said. "That's obviously something special in me and hopefully one of these days I'll be able to block it out and embrace it and go out and play from there."

Springer batted second and played right field, and he's expected to start daily as the Astros continue to look for a spark plug on offense.

Royals: High school teammates unite
This week's series against the Royals has again reunited Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas with his high school teammate, Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez. The two infielders from Chatsworth High in Northridge, Calif., went to a steakhouse for dinner after Tuesday's game.

It was the first time the two had seen each other since Moustakas' wedding Jan. 4. Dominguez was a groomsman in the wedding.

"We had some good arms and good glove men in that wedding," joked Moustakas. "It was a pretty good group of baseball players walking down the aisle."

Worth noting
• The Astros' last six games have been decided by two of fewer runs. They are 2-4 in those games.

• The Astros have 18 homers through 15 games for the first time since 2006, when they had 23 homers through 15 games.

• Astros starting pitchers have posted a 2.54 ERA in their last six games and a 3.72 ERA this season.

• The Royals committed four errors Wednesday, their most since recording five on Sept. 27, 2012, against Detroit. The last time they committed four errors and won was May 17, 2009, against Baltimore.

• Greg Holland has converted 45 of his last 46 save attempts since May 30, 2012.

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