HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton was the American League's ERA leader. Shohei Ohtani is billed as the next big thing on the mound. Who could have imagined the Astros and Angels were set for a slugfest on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park?
Reliever Joe Smith was tagged for four runs in the seventh inning, capped by a three-run homer by Andrelton Simmons -- his second of the game -- as the Astros couldn't complete a rally for the second game in a row in an 8-7 defeat.
"They took advantage of their opportunities," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We had a lot of runners left on, mostly because we had runners on every inning. That's going to lead to some big numbers if you don't deliver every hit. We're not going to do that."
The Astros did bash a season-high-tying 14 hits, including three by George Springer and two by Josh Reddick, Alex Bregman, Marwin Gonzalez and Derek Fisher, and drew seven walks but stranded 11 runners. That included pinch-runner Jake Marisnick at first base to end the game when Fisher took a called third strike from reliever Cam Bedrosian.
"It's not really one pitch that makes an at-bat, you know?" Fisher said. "I think there's a few in the early parts of that at-bat that I missed. To say that it came down to one pitch is probably not what I'm going to say, but I gotta do a better job not missing pitches early in the at-bat."
With the Astros nursing a 5-4 lead in the seventh, Smith fanned Michael Trout with a runner at first base for the second out of the inning before things unraveled with three consecutive hits, punctuated by Simmons' homer to left.
"Two outs and a runner on first and it turns into that; it's not good," Smith said. "I made a mistake and ended up giving up a homer to Andrelton. I didn't make my pitches, and they hit them."
Ohtani, making his fourth start, worked 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, five walks and six hits while striking out seven batters. Fisher tagged him for a 425-foot, two-run homer in the fifth that cut the Angels' lead to 4-3, and an inning later Brian McCann greeted reliever Jose Alvarez with a two-run homer to right to put the Astros ahead, 5-4.
"I thought we had really good at-bats given we haven't really seen him and the type of pitcher that he is, especially with that split, can put a little bit of fear in you," Hinch said of Ohtani.
Morton suffered his shortest start of the season. Like Ohtani, he walked five batters in addition to giving up a season-high four runs and five hits in four-plus innings. He surrendered a solo homer to Trout -- this Major League-leading 10th of the season -- in the first and another to Simmons in the second.
"I definitely wasn't sharp,' Morton said. "I wasn't throwing my fastball for strikes, and if I did, it really wasn't where I wanted it to go. Breaking ball, I really wasn't throwing it for strikes either, even one that's a 'get-me-over.' Everything was just down. Just one of those days where it's hard to be effective and pitch deep into the game if you can't throw your fastball where you want it to half the time."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Simmons' second homer put the Angels ahead, 8-5, and RBI singles by Bregman and Gonzalez in the bottom of the inning cut the deficit to one, but Angels third baseman Zack Cozart made a nice stop on a hard-hit ball by Springer with the bases loaded to get a forceout at second base to end the threat. The Astros went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"I was trying to back up and make sure that if we didn't catch it, they only got one run," Simmons said. "He made a really nice snag. They got the out, and that was huge."
HE SAID IT
"I'm going to be thinking about that game for a while as far as the way I called the game. … I felt like I didn't do Charlie any favors tonight." --- McCann
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Reddick hit a sinking liner to Kole Calhoun, who appeared to make a catch near the ground, with two outs in the eighth inning. The umpire called it a hit, and the Angels challenged. They were so confident the call was going to get overturned, most of the team left the field thinking they had the third out. After the review, the call stood.
Right-hander Justin Verlander will start for the Astros in Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale at Minute Maid Park. Verlander is 10-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last 13 regular-season starts, including 8-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 10 starts with the Astros. Former Astros pitcher Nick Tropeano (1-1, 3.75 ERA) will start for the Angels, who have won 11 in a row on the road.