Pena's gem undone by bullpen's rough 8th

Reliever-turned-starter allows two runs (one earned) in seven strong innings

September 2nd, 2018

HOUSTON -- The Angels couldn't take advantage of a career-best start from right-hander , allowing the Astros to score five runs in a sloppy eighth inning and rally for a 7-3 win on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Pena handed a one-run lead to the bullpen after surrendering only two runs (one earned) over a career-high seven innings, but the Astros staged an uprising against in the eighth. led off the inning with a single, and reached on catcher's interference, the second error of the night from .

Bedrosian nearly got out of the jam by striking out and coaxing a lineout from , but then delivered a two-out, RBI single up the middle to tie the game.

"The events just kind of went south," manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's all these things that were going the wrong way, but still, Cam had a chance to make a pitch to Correa to get out of it. He just left a fastball over the heart of the plate, and [Correa] lined it to center."

Scioscia promptly brought in to face with runners on the corners, but Robles gave up a tiebreaking, two-run double off the left-field wall. After a walk by , sent a drive to deep left-center field that hit off the glove of and dropped for an error, allowing two more runs to score to push the Astros' lead to 7-3.

entered the game in the ninth and retired , and to seal the Astros' win.

It wasn't the only loss endured by the Angels, as they also saw exit the game in the sixth inning with a mild concussion. Upton sustained the injury after going into a hard slide to avoid a collision with shortstop in left field in the fifth and is considered day to day.

The Astros trailed, 3-1, and had runners on second and third with two outs against Pena when Springer skied a popup to shallow left field. Simmons ran straight back and covered 71 feet to make an incredible catch to end the inning, but Upton appeared to hit his head while attempting to get out of the way.

"With Justin, he knows he's got to get into kind of a slide to make that catch because Andrelton is coming full bore," Scioscia said. "I think he was focused on the ball. I think he hit his head on the turf, or hit hard on the turf and it jolted him because there was no contact between him and Andrelton. There's no doubt that your heart kind of skips a beat for a second, and you're obviously worried about both guys."

Upton led off the sixth and struck out against Brad Peacock before being replaced by Cowart in left field in the bottom half of the inning. Upton just returned from the disabled list on Thursday after missing eight games with a finger laceration.

The Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Astros rookie Josh James after launched a three-run home run in the second inning. After Fernandez walked and Ward singled, Calhoun blasted a 3-2 fastball from James out to right field for his 18th home run of the season. He is now hitting .288 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs in 62 games since returning from the disabled list on June 18.

The Astros countered in the third after Gonzalez doubled, advanced to third on a fielding error by Upton and scored on a sacrifice fly from to cut the deficit to two. They pulled within one in the sixth after Pena mislocated a first-pitch slider to Bregman, who crushed it to the short porch in left field for a solo home run.

That proved to be the extent of the damage against Pena, who scattered five hits, walked none and struck out three in the 94-pitch effort. Though the Angels were initially careful with Pena's workload after moving him from the bullpen to the rotation, the 28-year-old right-hander has shown that he can maintain his stuff while pitching deep into games. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his last four outings, recording a 2.88 ERA over that span.

"Felix was terrific," Scioscia said. "It's a tough lineup, obviously, over there, but he had good movement on his fastballs, both sides of the plate, got the ground balls when he needed them. He used his slider. Just a couple mistakes. Outside of that, he pitched great baseball. Seven strong innings. We had a chance to win that game, for sure."


The Angels have thrown three consecutive quality starts to begin this four-game series, as , and Pena have combined to limit the Astros to one earned run over 19 innings. The last time the Angels posted three consecutive quality starts was June 1-3 against Texas.


"I felt very happy. The guys always support me, and he saved me two runs there." -- Pena, on Simmons' incredible catch


Angels two-way phenom (4-1, 3.10 ERA) will make his long-awaited return to the mound and start opposite Astros right-hander (12-5, 2.85) in Sunday night's series finale at 5:05 p.m. PT at Minute Maid Park. Ohtani hasn't pitched for the Angels since June 6 because of a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will likely be held to around 50 pitches. Ohtani made his lone appearance against the Astros on April 24, when he gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings.