ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani (Showtime) homered to snap Justin Verlander's (JV) scoreless streak at Angel Stadium, but it wasn't enough to snap another.Verlander extended his winning streak against the Angels to six games by firing six strong innings as the Astros rolled to an 8-3 victory on Saturday night.:: Players'
ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani (Showtime) homered to snap Justin Verlander's (JV) scoreless streak at Angel Stadium, but it wasn't enough to snap another.
Verlander extended his winning streak against the Angels to six games by firing six strong innings as the Astros rolled to an 8-3 victory on Saturday night.
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Verlander entered this Players' Weekend start having thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous three starts at Angel Stadium, and he once again imposed his dominance at the outset, blanking the Angels through the first three innings.
The Angels finally got to Verlander in the fourth, when Michael Trout (Kiiiiid) singled to set up Ohtani's two-run home run. Ohtani crushed a first-pitch changeup out to left-center field for his 14th home run, cutting the Astros' lead to 4-2 and ending Verlander's Big A scoreless streak at 26 innings, the fourth-longest such streak by a visiting player in the ballpark's history.
Ohtani also doubled off Verlander in the second inning to finish 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
"The first time I faced him, I didn't really know what kind of pitches he was going to throw, how good his pitches were," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "But after I faced him, I thought he had really top-notch stuff. I was trying to think in my head the next time I face him what to wait for, what kind of approach I should take. That's the adjustment I was making."
The Angels pulled within one after Trout singled and scored from first on Andrelton Simmons' (Simon) two-out triple off the left-field wall in the sixth, but Verlander coaxed a groundout from Francisco Arcia (Frankie) to end the inning. Verlander departed after giving up three runs over six innings, handing a 4-3 lead over to the Astros' bullpen.
Houston then broke the game open by scoring four runs in the eighth inning off left-hander Williams Jerez. Jerez surrendered a leadoff home run to Marwin Gonzalez (MarGo) and an RBI double to Alex Bregman (A-Breg) before third baseman Taylor Ward committed a two-base throwing error that allowed two more runs to score.
"There's no doubt there's going to be a learning curve with some of the guys that are on the field," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Jerez has a really good arm. He just missed with some spots and he paid a price for it. On the defensive end, Taylor is just getting comfortable at third base. We've got some youth on the field. There's going to be some growing pains here or there. Tonight we saw some of that."
Angels rookie Jaime Barria (El Pana) needed 72 pitches to get through three innings and was charged with the loss after yielding four runs. The Astros ran up the righty's pitch count early, forcing him to throw 36 pitches in a three-run first inning.
"Jaime just wasn't crisp," Scioscia said. "We talked about the importance of him being able to use all his pitches and locate his fastball. It just wasn't there early. He struggled through three innings."
Bregman led off the game with a double and scored on Jose Altuve's (Tuve) RBI single. Barria then retired Carlos Correa (I am Groot) on a groundout and Tyler White (Whitey) on a popout before surrendering back-to-back RBI doubles to Gonzalez and Yuli Gurriel (La Piña) with two outs. Barria said he believes part of his struggles in the first inning also resulted from some gamesmanship from the Astros.
"I feel like once they put runners on second base, they were stealing signs," Barria said in Spanish.
Barria subsequently changed signs, but the Astros nicked him for another run in the third. Altuve walked and and scored on another RBI double by Gurriel to make it 4-0, though the Angels saved a run after Eric Young (EYJ) and Simmons executed a perfect relay throw to Arcia to nab Gonzalez at the plate.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
McGuire, Scioscia tossed: Some late-inning tension developed between the two clubs in the seventh inning after Justin Anderson hit Altuve on the left elbow with a 99-mph fastball on an 0-2 pitch. Altuve appeared to be in pain, though he ultimately stayed in the game. Astros reliever Roberto Osuna then hit Ohtani on the rear end with a first-pitch fastball in the eighth, prompting home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman to issue warnings to both benches. The drama culminated in the ninth, when William McGuire hit Gurriel on the left leg and was summarily ejected by Dreckman. Scioscia came out to argue the call, but he too was tossed.
"I can only speak from what we were doing," Scioscia said. "There was no intent. Nobody likes to see anybody get hit. Justin was certainly not trying to hit Altuve. And I know that Deck was not trying to hit Gurriel."
Added McGuire: "It's unfortunate in that situation that warnings had been issued because there was no intent on my part. Just trying to get a guy out and have a clean inning."
The Angels (63-67) have now lost five in a row and seven of their last eight to drop four games below .500 for the first time this season. They have not led in a game since Aug. 19 at Texas, a drought that spans 39 innings.
HE SAID IT
"I would like to not think it was on purpose. I'm not sure about that. We hit their guy, but I'm sure that wasn't on purpose. Hit by pitches are just part of baseball. It happens. I'm not thinking too much into it." -- Ohtani, on whether he thought Osuna hit him intentionally
Right-hander Felix Pena (1-3, 4.53 ERA) will oppose left-hander Framber Valdez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on Sunday afternoon as the Angels and Astros close out their three-game series at 1:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Pena is set to make his first career appearance against Houston. The 28-year-old converted reliever is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA at Angel Stadium this year, compared to 1-1 with a 2.36 ERA on the road.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.