– Scott Kazmir made a strong first impression on his new teammates, pitching seven strong innings in his Houston debut and leading the Astros to a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

The 31-year-old lefthander limited the Royals to three singles and lowered his ERA to 2.24.

“It’s nice to get the first one out of the way,” Kazmir said. “When you have a defense like I had behind me especially what you see the first couple of innings, you have a lot of confidence out there. I just pitched to contact.”

Kazmir, acquired by the Astros from Oakland on Thursday for two minor leaguers, hasn’t lost a July start since July 10, 2010, going 7-0 in his past 14 starts.

“He really handled us with fastballs and changeups,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But changing speeds ... his fastball was 93-95. His changeup was 74 to 80. A lot of variation there. Really commanded the ball well, kept the ball down. Busted us in when we started looking away and off-speeded us down and away when we were looking in.”

Kazmir met his catcher Jason Castro for the first time just before batting practice.

“He’s going to be huge for us,” Castro said. “Obviously, the reason we went out and got him is exactly what he did tonight, to give us solid innings. We can’t expect him to throw a shutout every time, but that would be nice. That’s exactly what we were hoping to get out of him, to have another arm like that in our rotation is going to be huge.”

Preston Tucker had three of the Astros’ hits, including his fourth home run in five games — a solo shot in the third inning. Colby Rasmus singled home Carlos Correa later in the inning to make it 2-0.

“I hadn’t got a chance to see him pitch this year,” Tucker said of Kazmir. “I knew he was good. I didn’t know what to expect. That was awesome. That’s just what we needed.”