Astros drop game one of three to Angels

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 5-4 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Riding a five-game winning steak, the Astros were back at home on Friday night after a day off looking to go into the All-Star break with another series win and sweep. Here is how the first of three games went:

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Record: 55-33, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Felix Pena (6-2, 4.72 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Justin Verlander (10-4, 2.98 ERA).

1) Verlander's struggle with home runs continues

After two quick innings to start the game, Justin Verlander would watch more balls leave the yard in the third inning, making it five straight games with a home run allowed as well as at least three earned runs after a two-run home run by Kole Calhoun then later a solo home run by Shohei Ohtani.

Verlander looked to be back in control after that, until the top of the sixth inning when he allowed a solo home run to lead off the inning, extending the Angels' lead to 4-2. The night didn't come without a highlight, though, as Verlander would get enough strikeouts to pass up Jim Bunning to take over 18th place on the all-time strikeout leaders list.

He would end up still getting through seven innings to save the bullpen's arms. Verlander's final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 HR.

2) Unable to close the gap

Michael Brantley was looking in All-Star form in his first at-bat, getting a solo home run to put Houston ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning. After Los Angeles scored three runs on homers of their own in the top of the third, the Astros trimmed their lead to one run when Yuli Gurriel scored Brantley on an RBI-groundout, making it 3-2.

The Angels extended their lead back to 4-2 in the sixth inning, and the Astros wasted a chance in the bottom half of the inning, getting runners on second and third with no outs, loading the bases with two outs, but coming away empty handed. Hector Rondon took over for Justin Verlander to pitch the eighth, but he too would fall victim of a Los Angeles home run, giving up a solo shot to Mike Trout to make it a 5-2 game.

The Astros got a shot in the arm in the bottom of the eighth, getting two more RBIs from Yuli Gurriel who continued his monster pace of late with a two-run home run to trim the lead to 5-4. Josh James was next out of the bullpen and pitched the ninth, a scoreless inning to keep it a one-run game.

Up Next: The Astros will be part of another nationally-televised Saturday evening game on FOX tomorrow at 6:15 PM. The probable starters are Gerrit Cole (8-5, 3.28 ERA) for the Astros going against Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.40 ERA) for the Angels.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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