Altuve’s 3-run homer propels Astros past Angels, 5-3
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) After Jose Altuve got picked off first base to end the first inning, he had a little talk with himself.
”I went to second base to play defense, and I said to myself, `OK, you’ve got to wake up and start playing baseball,”’ Altuve said.
He and the Houston Astros are extremely good at getting back in the game.
Altuve hit a three-run homer during Houston’s four-run third inning, and Evan Gattis also homered in the Astros’ 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
The AL West leaders overcame an early two-run deficit to win for the sixth time in eight games, opening a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Los Angeles by taking two of three in the series.
The finale was a workmanlike win, with Altuve providing the biggest blow on his go-ahead homer. After getting a day off Saturday, he extended his hitting streak in Anaheim to 17 games since June 17, 2015.
”Sometimes a day off does a guy well, mentally,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. ”He got back to doing Altuve-type stuff, which is being the best player on the field.”
Mike Fiers pitched five innings and earned his first victory of the season with a boost from his bullpen, which threw four scoreless innings of two-hit ball. Ken Giles rebounded from blowing a four-run lead in the ninth inning Friday, pitching an uneventful ninth for his eighth save.
Yunel Escobar hit two home runs for the Angels, who have lost four of five. Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout sat out with a tight left hamstring for the third time in four games.
Matt Shoemaker (1-2) pitched five-hit ball into the seventh, but was undone by the Astros’ big inning capped by Altuve’s fifth homer of the season. The loss was his first at Angel Stadium since June 1, 2016.
Shoemaker walked three and managed only 46 strikes on 80 pitches.
Altuve went deep right after Josh Reddick’s RBI single drove in Houston’s first run off Shoemaker. The Angels right-hander was chased by Gattis’ solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.
”That’s the end result of not repeating your pitches and not having your command,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”The times when he was dominant, he’s still got that in him. He just needs to find his release point and repeat his pitches better, and all those things will go well for him.”
Fiers (1-1) yielded four hits and struck out five, and he also walked four for the first time since September 2015. He still did enough to get in position for his first win.
”Seems to be my downfall is balls leaving the ballpark,” Fiers said. ”But if they’re solo homers, I can’t really complain too much.”
Escobar doubled his homer total for the entire season in his second career multi-homer game, his first since 2014. He connected on Fiers’ first pitch for his 10th career leadoff homer and added another solo shot in the fifth.
Astros: Utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez was out of the lineup with a sore right foot after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. Gonzalez has been on a hot streak at the plate, going 9 for 20.
Angels: C.J. Cron’s right wrist was hit by a pitch Sunday during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake. He was removed from the game, but X-rays revealed no fractures. He is day-to-day, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. Cron is returning from a bruised left foot after fouling off a pitch late last month. … Trout said he plans to play Monday at Oakland. He also missed games on Thursday and Saturday, but extended his hitting streak to 17 games on Friday. Trout has played in at least 157 games in four consecutive seasons, and he missed only three games in each of the past two years.
Astros: After an off day, Charlie Morton (3-2, 3.97 ERA) makes the seventh start of his first season with the Astros on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, his former team.
Angels: Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 4.68) starts against the Oakland Athletics for the third time already this season when the Angels open a three-game set in the Bay Area.
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