Simmons’ 2-run HR helps Angels beat Astros 3-0

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              Los Angeles Angels' Andrelton Simmons watches his two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
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HOUSTON (AP) — After the Los Angeles Angels won their second straight game against the Houston Astros with a shutout on Friday night, manager Mike Scioscia took a minute to rave about his pitching staff.

“The one theme here the last two games is I love the way we’re pitching,” he said. “We need to set a tone on the mound and we did it last night with Andrew (Heaney) and did it again tonight with Jaime (Barria). That’s the foundation that we have to get back to and it was good to see it these last two games.”

Andrelton Simmons hit a two-run homer in a three-run sixth inning that led the Angels to the 3-0 win.

Barria (9-8) scattered three hits and one walk in six innings to improve to 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in six starts in August. He was much sharper than his last outing against the Astros last Saturday, when he gave up four runs and five hits in three innings of the Angels’ 8-3 loss.

“Looked like the ball was crisper, truer, definitely used his fastball very well on both sides of the plate, had up and down, and had his good slider and change-up going,” Scioscia said. “That’s six strong innings he pitched.”

Justin Anderson struck out one in a perfect seventh. Ty Buttrey got into a jam in the eighth inning when Josh Reddick singled with no out before pinch-hitter Tony Kemp gave Houston its first extra-base hit of the night with a double on a liner to right field. Alex Bregman walked with one out to load the bases, but Buttrey struck out Jose Altuve before Carlos Correa popped out to end the inning.

Blake Parker allowed one hit and walked one in a scoreless ninth for his 13th save.

Houston starter Framber Valdez (2-1) was replaced by Collin McHugh after walking Kole Calhoun to start the sixth inning. An error by McHugh allowed Calhoun to advance to second before a single by David Fletcher sent him to third.

Mike Trout’s sacrifice fly put the Angels up 1-0, and Simmons followed one out later with his homer into the left-field seats.

The Astros went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position on a night manager A.J. Hinch was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Eric Cooper between the third and fourth innings as they lost their second straight game.

Hinch said he was upset at a couple of calls on pitches to Altuve and that he was taking up for the reigning AL MVP when he approached Cooper.

“Cooper is a good umpire and very easy to like, but as he started walking toward Altuve and escalate the argument, I took exception to that,” Hinch said. “In between innings like that, the simplest thing to do is walk away. I said something from the dugout and he turned his attention to me and kicked me out of the game.

“I’m defending Altuve every inch of the way, but it didn’t need to happen,” Hinch continued. “None of it needed to happen. Me getting run out of the game is ridiculous.”

The Angels had a chance to add on in the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Hector Rondon sat down the next three batters to leave them empty-handed.

Valdez was charged with a run and two hits while walking three in five-plus innings for his first loss after winning his last two games.

The Astros had runners at first and third with one out in the third after singles by Martin Maldonado and George Springer, but Barria retired Bregman and Altuve to escape the jam. Correa singled to start Houston’s fourth before Barria retired the last nine batters he faced. He was replaced by Anderson to start the seventh.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: C Brian McCann (knee surgery) and OF Jake Marisnick (groin) will be activated from the disabled list on Saturday.

SIMBA ROARS IN HOUSTON

Simmons, whose nickname is Simba, has been great in Houston this season. He is hitting .600 with three homers, a double and 10 homers in four games at Minute Maid Park this season. He’s had success against the Astros at home, too hitting .354 with 14 RBIs in 13 games overall against Houston this season. He’s tied with Oakland’s Khris Davis for the most RBIs against Houston this year.

UP NEXT

Josh James will be recalled from Triple-A Fresno on Saturday to make his major league debut for Houston against Felix Pena (1-4, 4.52 ERA). The 25-year-old James, who was selected in the 34th round of the 2014 draft, has 171 strikeouts in 23 games with 21 starts combined between Double-A Corpus Christi and Fresno.