ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Cristian Javier struck out 11 over six strong innings of three-hit ball, and the Houston Astros overcame Shohei Ohtani’s two-run homer in the ninth inning for a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Ohtani made things interesting with a two-run shot off Houston closer Ryan Pressly in the ninth, golfing a curveball below the zone into the right-field stands for his eighth homer following Mike Trout’s leadoff single.
Anthony Rendon and Hunter Renfroe then delivered singles, but Pressly retired three straight Angels to complete his sixth save.
Jeremy Peña had a two-run single during Houston’s four-run fourth inning, and Yordan Alvarez homered as the Astros took two of three at Angel Stadium.
Houston got back-to-back outstanding starts from Framber Valdez and Javier (3-1), who allowed three runs and struck out 23 over 14 combined innings. Javier, who got a whopping 24 swing-and-misses while hitting a season-high for strikeouts, issued just one walk and allowed hits in only one of his six innings.
He twice struck out the top of the Angels’ lineup in order, fanning Taylor Ward, Trout and Ohtani in both the first and sixth innings.
“It was a key for me to keep (the top of the order) under control as much as possible,” Javier said through his translator. “That allowed me to pitch deep into the game.”
Renfroe hit his 10th homer for the Angels, who lost four of five to end a disappointing homestand against AL West rivals Texas and Houston. Big innings have bedeviled the Angels, who gave up at least three runs in an inning for their fifth consecutive game.
“We can compete with anybody if (Texas and Houston) are the two best (teams in the division), which I think they are,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “We had our chances today. It’s been the one-inning bugaboo for us, (but) I liked our at-bats at the end.”
Trout and Ohtani were 0 for 6 with five combined strikeouts before coming through in the ninth.
Griffin Canning (2-1) was chased in the fourth for Los Angeles, yielding five hits and five runs. Canning threw several of the fastest pitches of his career in this start, topping 97 mph early, but he also made a two-base error on a pickoff throw during Houston’s fourth-inning rally.
Alvarez connected with a high fastball in the first for his eighth homer of the season, but Renfroe replied in the second with his third homer in four games for his new team.
Astros: OF Chas McCormick missed his second straight game after playing in Monday’s game in his return from back tightness. Manager Dusty Baker said McCormick’s back is feeling sore. … Mauricio Dubón didn’t play after leaving Tuesday’s game in the fifth inning with a hamstring injury. … OF Michael Brantley has left the team for more testing on his surgically repaired shoulder. He hasn’t played since last season. Baker is hopeful Brantley will rejoin the team soon to continue his rehab.
Angels: 1B Jared Walsh is headed to a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake. He hasn’t played this season due to headaches.
Astros: After a travel day, 28-year-old rookie J.P. France (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is expected to take the mound Friday in Chicago for his second major league start when Houston opens a weekend series against the White Sox, who will welcome José Abreu back to the Southside. France threw five scoreless innings in an impressive debut last weekend.
Angels: Tyler Anderson (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will be on the mound in Cleveland on Friday when Los Angeles opens a weekend series against the Guardians.