ANAHEIM -- Even with the likes of Michael Trout and Jose Pujols due up, it would've been tough to fault the Astros for feeling comfortable with a three-run lead and four outs to record a win Saturday against the Angels.After all, the Astros entered with a 1.77 ERA from their
ANAHEIM -- Even with the likes of Michael Trout and Jose Pujols due up, it would've been tough to fault the Astros for feeling comfortable with a three-run lead and four outs to record a win Saturday against the Angels.
After all, the Astros entered with a 1.77 ERA from their bullpen this month, a mark that led the Majors.
But a walk of Trout from right-hander Francis Martes triggered a domino effect in the eighth that ended in a three-run, go-ahead homer from Andrelton Simmons off Tyler Clippard, and a 7-6 loss for Houston.
"We didn't close the game out on a couple fronts," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. " … Tough loss for sure, we had our opportunities."
Martes (aka "Chanchi for Players Weekend) got Trout into a 1-2 count with two away in the eighth but the rookie proceeded to throw three straight balls to extend the frame.
"He got a little excitable trying to get Trout out," Hinch said. "I thought he made really good pitches to him early. Trout's obviously a really good hitter, and he battled.
" … It's easy to say now, 'Throw the ball down the middle, see what happens, and maybe the game takes care of you.' He wasn't trying to miss by how much he missed."
After a bloop single from Pujols, Hinch summoned Clippard to face Kole Calhoun, who singled to drive in Trout. Simmons then belted Clippard's first offering for the go-ahead blast, just outside the reach of left fielder Josh Reddick ("Red Dawg").
"The slider backed up one me -- just a terrible pitch," Clippard said. " I was trying to go down-and-away with it and it just backed up on me and went middle."
The home run left starter Brad Peacock without a decision after striking out eight and allowing just one run on three hits over six innings. The Angels opened the seventh with a single from Calhoun and double from Simmons off Francisco Liriano, and both came around to score on ground balls after Martes entered the game.
"These guys have been great all year," Peacock said of the bullpen. "It's baseball, stuff like this happens."
The Astros mounted a six-run lead entering the bottom of the seventh, thanks in part to solo homers from George Springer and Jake Marisnick ("Big Fudge), along with a two-run single from Josh Reddick in the first.
It was an especially odd night for Martes, who allowed as many runs in 1 1/2 innings Saturday as he had in his previous 10 2/3 innings this month.
"Each of these guys have thrown very well," Hinch said. "Credit those guys for putting up some pretty tough at-bats against a pretty hot bullpen."
Ryan Posner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Astros on Saturday.