Peña delivers in 10th, Astros hold off slumping Angels 3-2

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Houston Astros lost Jose Altuve to injury in the first inning, and they were already road-weary before they were forced into extra innings in the final game of their trip.

Yet this big orange machine just keeps on rolling.

Jeremy Pena drove in the tiebreaking run in the 10th inning of the Astros’ 13th victory in 16 games, 3-2 over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.

Automatic runner Korey Lee advanced on Mauricio Dubon’s flyout and scored on Pena’s single to right off Aaron Loup (0-3) for the Astros, who hadn’t scored since the first inning. Houston rebounded from Wednesday’s loss to Shohei Ohtani and improved the second-best record in the majors to 58-30 while keeping their AL West lead at a whopping 11 games even though second-place Seattle has won 11 in a row.

“Every player had to step up,” Pena said. “We just have a bunch of guys that are ready for every situation, and that’s what makes it so good.”

Ryan Pressley (3-2) struck out Brandon Marsh to end it with the potential tying run on third. The Houston closer pitched two scoreless innings for the AL West leaders, who took two of three from their struggling division rivals at the Big A.

“Those guys have been pushing,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of his team. “They’ve really been grinding. You have to grind, because you’re really playing against yourself until – if and when – (the division race) gets a little closer.”

The Astros played the final 8 1/2 innings without Altuve after the eight-time All-Star selection got hit in the left knee with Reid Detmers’ first pitch of the game. Altuve took his base and eventually scored Houston’s first run, but didn’t come out to play second base in the bottom half of the first.

Altuve has a bruised left leg, the Astros said.

“He’s going to be sore,” Baker said. “He was going to be off (Friday) anyway, so I hope he’ll be ready for Saturday and Sunday.”

Mike Trout missed his second straight game with upper back spasms for the Angels, who stranded 14 runners and went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position during their 10th loss in 12 games. Los Angeles hasn’t won back-to-back games since June 27.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “Certainly had some baserunners out there, took some good at-bats, and just didn’t get a big hit.”

Detmers recovered from a rough first inning to throw six frames of five-hit ball for the Angels, striking out six in the rookie’s second strong start since a brief demotion to the minors.

“Awesome,” Nevin said. “To minimize that damage (in the first) and then pitch through the sixth inning the way he did was phenomenal. He found the feel for his pitches right away, where I think in the past, he might have had a hard time reeling it back in. That was a winning effort today.”

The Astros went up 2-0 after their first four batters reached base against Detmers. Kyle Tucker delivered a bases-loaded single in the rally.

The Angels tied it in the fourth when Max Stassi scored on a passed ball by Martin Maldonado.

VALDEZ’S START

Framber Valdez pitched six innings of six-hit ball with six strikeouts for the Astros. The All-Star lefty walked three Halos, who lost to Valdez on Opening Day in Anaheim and then struck out 13 times against Valdez 11 days ago in Houston.

SHOHEI CAN’T DO EVERYTHING

Ohtani went 1 for 3 with two walks one night after throwing six strong innings and hitting a two-run triple to beat the Astros. Los Angeles is 6-0 since June 9 when Ohtani pitches, and 6-20 when anybody else takes the mound.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Dubon took over for Altuve at second base. He made a throwing error during a tough play on Stassi’s grounder in the fourth, and Stassi eventually scored the tying run. … LF Michael Brantley flew home after taking swings and still feeling discomfort in his shoulder. The veteran has been on the injured list since late June.

Angels: Trout got another rest day after leaving Tuesday’s game with back stiffness. The team still claims it isn’t a significant injury, but Trout was not used as a pinch-hitter with the game on the line.

UP NEXT

Astros: Jake Odorizzi (4-2, 3.38 ERA) is expected to start Friday when Houston opens a home series against Oakland before the All-Star break.

Angels: Patrick Sandoval (3-4, 2.95 ERA) takes the mound Friday in Anaheim against Clayton Kershaw to open the two-game Freeway Series before the Dodgers host the All-Star Game.

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.