BASEBALL: Gonzalez homers again as surging Astros beat Angels 8-3
By Jill Painter Lopez
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Marwin Gonzalez homered for the second consecutive game and Justin Verlander did just enough to lead the Houston Astros to a 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Gonzalez hit a solo home run to left-center field off reliever Williams Jerez to lead off the four-run eighth inning. Gonzalez has 14 home runs this season, including eight in August. The Astros had been clinging to a one-run lead before he opened the eighth with that homer.
The Astros (79-50) are in first place in the AL West and have won four consecutive games and five of their last six. They’re the best road team in baseball and they’re feasting on California teams on the road, where they’ve gone 17-5. The Astros are 6-2 against the Angels this season. The Angels have lost five consecutive games.
Jose Altuve was hit in the elbow by a fastball from Justin Anderson in the seventh, but remained in the game. Ohtani was then hit in the backside by Roberto Osuna in the eighth and both benches were warned. Deck McGuire hit Yuli Gurriel in the leg in the ninth inning and was ejected. Angels manager Mike Scioscia was also ejected.
Verlander (13-8) is particularly effective in Southern California. He had thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings against the Angels this season before Shohei Ohtani homered against him in the fourth inning on the first pitch of the at-bat. It was Ohtani’s 14th home run of the season, eight shy of his career best in Japan in 2016.
Verlander threw six innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out six. He was grooving until the fourth when Ohtani hit a two-run homer to center field. Andrelton Simmons hit a run-scoring triple off Verlander in the sixth.
Ohtani was caught stealing for the first time this season. He was thrown out at third by catcher and friend Martin Maldonado, who was traded by the Angels in July. Maldonado was smiling plenty afterward.
Jaime Barria (8-8) had a rough outing, lasting just three innings after he gave up four runs on five hits. It was his shortest outing since he threw just two innings in a loss against San Francisco on April 22. On that day, he threw 77 pitches in two innings.
This time, Barria got in trouble early. He allowed three runs in the first inning, in which he allowed three doubles.
• Astros: OF George Springer (quadriceps) is expected to get an at-bat Saturday or Sunday. A decision will be made by Monday whether he will go on the disabled list or not. He has missed five consecutive games. … INF Gonzalez (sore knee) is still in the lineup but experiencing some soreness.
• Angels: RHP/DH Ohtani (strained right elbow) threw a 21-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. He is scheduled to throw a simulated game next week. … LHP Tyler Skaggs (left adductor strain) played catch again Saturday. … C Rene Rivera (bee sting) was stung on his arm during Friday’s game when he threw a ball back to the mound. He stayed in the game.
• Astros: LHP Framber Valdez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first career start and second appearance. He threw 4 1/3 innings in relief in his Major League debut Tuesday, allowing one unearned run on two hits and struck out four.
• Angels: RHP Felix Pena (1-3, 4.53) struck out 12 in his last start but gave up four earned runs in six innings in the Angels’ 5-4 loss in Arizona on Tuesday.