ANAHEIM -- Jose Altuve's three-run home run highlighted a four-run third inning for the Astros, powering Houston to a 5-3 victory over the Angels and clinching a series victory Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.Evan Gattis also homered for the Astros, who improved to 21-11, matching the best start in franchise
ANAHEIM -- Jose Altuve's three-run home run highlighted a four-run third inning for the Astros, powering Houston to a 5-3 victory over the Angels and clinching a series victory Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
Evan Gattis also homered for the Astros, who improved to 21-11, matching the best start in franchise history, and built a 5 1/2-game lead over the Halos in the American League West.
"The big three-run homer was obviously a huge momentum shift from their dugout to our dugout by taking the lead," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
"When you win a series, there's no complaints," Hinch said. "All three games were really good games. Our guys keep competing. We keep a pretty even keel. We have a fun group that knows how to win some close games."
• Altuve has #ASGWorthy performance
Astros right-hander Mike Fiers pitched five innings, allowing three runs on four hits while walking four and striking out one. With Michael Trout out of the lineup for a second straight day due to left hamstring tightness, Yunel Escobar inflicted most of the Angels' damage against Fiers, launching a pair of solo home runs to mark his second career multi-homer game.
Escobar led off the bottom of the first by hammering a first-pitch fastball to left-center field for his third home run of the season and his 10th career leadoff blast. He took Fiers deep again in the fifth, crushing a 3-2 cutter to center that reduced the Astros' lead to 4-3. Fiers has permitted 14 home runs this year, the most in the Majors.
"Seems to be my downside this year is balls leaving the ballpark," Fiers said. "If they're solo home runs, I can't really complain too much. If I can keep the ball inside the park, I'll be doing pretty good."
• Escobar shows off rare power
Angels right-hander Matthew Shoemaker yielded five runs on five hits, including two home runs, over six-plus innings, with three walks and four strikeouts. Shoemaker, whose ERA spiked to 5.21 following the uneven outing, has allowed nine home runs and 18 walks over 38 innings this season, both of which are uncharacteristically high.
"Right now, I think he's losing counts," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, there are some walks that are creeping up. When he's going good, there will be very few walks. Right now [the walks] are showing up, and he's paying the price for it. He'll be fine, but I think that's just the report card, where you see the walks and home runs. You know that the process isn't quite where it needs to be. He just needs to find his release point and repeat pitches better, and all that stuff will go in a positive direction."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Astros erupt for four runs:The Angels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after Escobar homered in the first and Martin Maldonado added an RBI single in the second, but the Astros erased the deficit by erupting for four runs off Shoemaker in the third. Shoemaker got into trouble after surrendering a double to Alex Bregman and a two-out walk to George Springer. Josh Reddick put Houston on the board with an RBI single, but Altuve delivered the biggest blow of the inning, blasting a first-pitch slider over the left-field fence for a three-run home run that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead.
"It was good because it ended up winning the game," Altuve said. "This is what it's about; try to win every series. The way this team has been playing is amazing. Everything you can do to keep going and keep winning games and series, you've got to go out there and do it."
"Pretty frustrating," Shoemaker said. "You go out there and for the most part pitch pretty decent. As pitchers, we can say this a lot, but it's just take one pitch back. We can arguably win the game if you take that one pitch back."
Angels strand Revere at third: After Escobar's second homer of the game pulled the Angels within one, Ben Revere lined a two-out triple to right field off Houston reliever James Hoyt in the sixth, putting the tying run on third. But Maldonado could not come through for the Halos; he struck out swinging on a slider from Hoyt to leave Revere stranded, preserving the Astros' 4-3 lead.
It was as close as the Angels would get, as Gattis opened the seventh with a solo shot off Shoemaker, creating a two-run cushion for Houston.
"It's not his norm. He's given up home runs in the past, but not at this pace. It's about executing pitches, and he's getting burned in =sort of a big fashion, and that's something he'll continue to work on. We'll keep working at it."
-- Hinch, on Fiers' homers
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the fifth, Hinch issued a challenge after Jake Marisnick was thrown out by Maldonado while trying to steal second with two outs. A two-minute and 31-second replay review determined that Marisnick's hand had touched the bag ahead of Andrelton Simmons' tag, extending the inning. But Shoemaker subsequently coaxed a groundout from Reddick to leave Marisnick stranded at second.
Astros: The Astros are off Monday before opening a two-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. CT Tuesday against the Braves at Minute Maid Park. Right-hander Charlie Morton, who was drafted by the Braves and broke into the big leagues with them, will start against his former club.
Angels: The Angels head to Oakland to open a three-game series against the A's on Monday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 4.68 ERA) will take the mound for the Halos. Nolasco has gone 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his first two starts against the A's this year.
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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.