Astros blow 4-run lead, rally in 9th to beat Angels 6-5

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Even the mighty Houston Astros are not immune to occasional bouts of comprehensive ineptitude, as they demonstrated while blowing a four-run lead in the seventh inning with two errors, a hit batter with the bases loaded and a passed ball.

The Astros still had plenty of time to recover against an opponent that’s been largely inept for two full months now.

Kyle Tucker delivered a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth inning, and the Astros rallied for a 6-5 victory over the spiraling Los Angeles Angels.

Although the Astros wasted a strong six-inning start by Luis Garcia with a mistake-filled seventh, the AL West leaders have still won four of five and 21 of 27 to move a season-high 28 games above .500 at 57-29.

“They say there’s no such thing as an ugly win, but that wasn’t very pretty,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “That was tough.”

Jose Altuve led off the ninth with a walk from Angels closer Raisel Iglesias (2-6), who had his second straight calamitous outing. Aledmys Diaz singled before the double to right by Tucker, a first-time All-Star selection last week.

Diaz hit an early two-run homer and Alex Bregman and Altuve had RBI singles. Hector Neris (2-3) pitched the eighth, and Ryan Pressly picked up his 19th save.

“I’m just grateful we were able to bounce back and get that run we needed against a very good closer,” said reliever Phil Maton, who got charged with four unearned runs in the seventh after committing one of the two errors. “We shouldn’t even have been in that situation.”

Pinch-hitter David MacKinnon had a two-RBI single during that four-run rally in the seventh, but the Angels had only two hits in their latest punchless performance at the plate.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where they get two hits and five runs without a homer,” said Baker, who made his major league debut in 1968. “But we came back. We were lucky to win the game.”

Mike Trout left with upper back spasms before the fifth inning on another disappointing night for the Halos, who have lost five straight and nine of 10 to drop a season-low 12 games below .500 at 38-50. Shohei Ohtani went 0 for 2 with two walks on the night before the All-Star returns to the mound and attempts to extend his streak of 28 2/3 scoreless innings.

Trout struck out in his first two at-bats against Garcia before leaving the game. He also struck out 16 times while batting .177 on the Angels’ road trip.

“It spasmed up on him,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said of Trout. “I didn’t like the way he was moving around in center field after that second at-bat. … These things can be tricky. It’s upper-back, so that’s the comforting thing. But everything checked out OK.”

Garcia struck out seven and retired his final 13 hitters over six innings of one-hit ball for the Astros. He left with a 5-1 lead, but failed to win his fifth consecutive start after Houston’s bullpen and defense collapsed.

Noah Syndergaard wasn’t sharp for the Angels, yielding three runs on three hits and a season-high four walks while lasting just four innings.

Houston was up 2-0 after two batters: Altuve drew a leadoff walk before Diaz drilled his sixth homer to center.

Los Angeles didn’t have a baserunner between Brandon Marsh‘s second-inning single and Luis Rengifo‘s 10-pitch walk in the seventh. After Houston’s back-to-back errors and MacKinnon’s big hit, Marsh scored the tying run on a passed ball.

ROUGH STRETCH

Before he wrapped up the ninth, Iglesias had allowed eight consecutive batters to reach base, starting with four straight hits to end his horrific blown save last Friday in Baltimore. Iglesias’ velocity has declined in his last two appearances, and Nevin acknowledges it’s a concern.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers threw a two-inning simulated game. He’ll throw another on Saturday. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since injuring his right flexor tendon in last season’s playoffs.

Angels: RHP Austin Warren returned from the injured list before the game and pitched a scoreless seventh. The reliever had been out since June 17 with a right triceps strain after missing time earlier in the season when he was hit in the face by a baseball during batting practice.

UP NEXT

Ohtani (8-4, 2.44 ERA) faces Cristian Javier (6-4, 3.01). The Halos’ two-way superstar will make the 50th pitching start of his major league career. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 9.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.