ANAHEIM, Calif.— The Houston Astros found a way to win and showed the Los Angeles Angels why they have the best record in the American League despite their recent struggles.
Collin McHugh pitched six strong innings, rookie J.D. Davis homered, and George Springer scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to lead the Astros to a 2-1 victory over the Angels on Friday night.
Houston got a needed win after losing 16 of their previous 25 games and handed Los Angeles its fourth loss in five games after winning nine of 11. The loss knocked the Angels 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the last wild-card spot in the AL.
“A week ago we were playing great baseball,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We were playing at a level where we could absorb a bad break.
“We need to focus on in-house and what we need to do. Play at a high enough level to absorb some bad breaks. Just relax and play the game the way we’ve been playing for the last couple weeks.”
The Angels had an opportunity to tie the score in the seventh when they loaded the bases against Chris Devenski with two outs and Mike Trout worked a full count.
But Devenski got Trout to hit a popup to end the inning.
“That’s what people pay to see is that type of matchup,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “One of our best relievers, an All-Star, against one of the best players in the game. A 3-2 count and nowhere to put him.
“To be able to beat Trout when everybody in the ballpark knew he had to throw a strike _ one a big moment, a great moment for everybody.”
McHugh (2-2) allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out eight. Ken Giles pitched the ninth to earn his 25th save.
Right-hander Parker Bridwell (7-2) went seven innings for the Angels, allowing two runs and six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out five.
With Hurricane Harvey expected to hit Houston on Saturday morning, Hinch said players were focusing on home.
“We’re paying close attention,” he said. “I mean, every TV’s been on the Weather Channel, which is rare for a major league clubhouse. It’s pretty terrifying to think of what’s possible in our city. Our families are there, our friends are there, our fans are there.”
Trout only has three hits in his last 25 at-bats, but is considered by many the best player in baseball. So you can forgive Devenski, who grew up 15 miles from Angel Stadium, when he popped Trout up to avoid a bases-loaded situation in the seventh.
“You definitely thrive on it,” he said. “You go into it with no fear and find a way to get out of it.
“It was a good battle. He fouled off some good pitches and I was able to execute my pitch on 3-2. I came off the field super fired up.”
Astros: Activated C Evan Gattis from the concussion disabled list and placed C Max Stassi on the 10-day DL with left hand inflammation. Gattis has been on the concussion DL since Aug. 5. He started Friday.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards, who has pitched in only one game all season because of a biceps strain, pitched an encouraging three-inning simulated game. Scioscia said if Richards responds normally Saturday, his next step could be a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake. . 3B Yunel Escobar (oblique) did a full workout and could also be headed for a rehab assignment.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (10-2, 3.21 ERA) will attempt to bounce back from only his second loss of the season, though he still pitched well against Oakland (three runs, one earned, seven hits and eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings). He is 3-2 with a 5.15 ERA in nine games (six starts) against the Angels.
Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (1-4, 3.96) is scheduled to start Saturday. He is 2-2 with a 2.49 ERA in four career starts against the Astros, but 0-3 with a 3.92 ERA in four starts since returning from a strained oblique.