- Associated Press - Thursday, September 4, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Chris Carter insists he doesn’t think about winning the home run title.

If he keeps hitting long balls at his current pace, soon it will be difficult to ignore that race.

Carter homered twice and drove in three runs, Collin McHugh pitched into the eighth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Carter has 35 home runs, and his seven multihomer games this season are a franchise record. It’s the most homers by an Astros player since Lance Berkman hit 45 in 2006.

The designated hitter, who also singled, leads the majors with 22 homers and 52 RBIs since July 1. His 35 home runs rank third in the majors behind Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who have 36 apiece.

“It’s still nothing I’ve thought about,” Carter said of the possibility of leading the league in homers. “I’m just out there trying to have good at-bats. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.”

He was, however, happy about setting a franchise record, especially after he finished last year with 212 strikeouts, third-most in major league history.

“It’s nice to have a good record this time instead of the one I had last year,” he said with a laugh.

It was the second straight win for the Astros since manager Bo Porter was fired on Monday and replaced by interim manager Tom Lawless.

Carter put Houston on top 1-0 with his homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the second inning off Angels starter Jered Weaver (15-8).

“I thought he kind of mishit it, hit it off the bat, but he’s strong as an ox,” Weaver said.

Carter’s two-run, opposite-field shot made it 4-1 in the eighth.

The first-place Angels lost both games in the series after sweeping the A’s in a four-game set before arriving in Houston.

“Luckily, the A’s lost a couple as well, so it doesn’t hurt us too bad, but it would have been nice to get a couple of wins here and extend the lead a little bit,” Weaver said. “Just have to keep trucking on and get another winning streak going.”

McHugh (8-9) yielded four hits and a run with eight strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings for his fourth straight win, extending a career high. Chad Qualls pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save.

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