ANAHEIM (AP) — George Springer hit a grand slam while the Astros batted around in the sixth inning, and Justin Verlander ended his six-start winless streak with 11 strikeouts over six dominant innings in Houston’s 7-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Verlander (10-5) yielded five hits while getting ample support in his third win over Los Angeles already this season. He has thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three starts at Angel Stadium, including a five-hit shutout on May 16.
Four batters after Josh Reddick homered to lead off the sixth, Springer delivered his fifth career grand slam on a full count against reliever Noe Ramirez.
Springer had driven in only five runs in his previous 24 games, but everything clicked for the defending World Series champions in their fourth win in five games, extending the second-best start in franchise history to 66-35.
Verlander hadn’t won since June 14 despite setting career bests for strikeouts, ERA and opponents’ batting average before the break. The All-Star right-hander walked two and allowed just one runner to reach third base.
Shohei Ohtani had two doubles as the Angels (49-50) dropped below .500 for the first time since the season opener. Los Angeles has scored one run in the first 18 innings after the break in what’s looking like yet another lost season for a big-budget franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009.
Nick Tropeano (3-5) pitched five innings of two-hit ball in his return from injury, but Los Angeles committed three errors and again struggled at the plate against an Astros ace.
Ohtani’s fourth-inning double was the Halos’ only extra-base hit off Verlander. The Japanese rookie doubled again in the ninth.
Mike Trout went 0 for 2 with two walks, leaving him hitless in three consecutive games for only the second time in two months.
Tropeano walked four and recorded five strikeouts in his first start since June 10. The former Astros prospect missed the past 31 games with right shoulder inflammation.
Houston went ahead in the third when rookie Kyle Tucker singled and eventually scored on Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly. Marwin Gonzalez then scored in the fourth on Tony Kemp’s double after reaching base on a rare error by Andrelton Simmons, the Angels’ Gold Glove shortstop.
Ohtani played catch in the outfield for the third straight day as he continues a deliberate throwing progression. The two-way sensation hasn’t pitched since June 6 due to a sprained elbow ligament, but the Halos are hopeful he’ll be back on the mound this season.
Astros: Lance McCullers Jr. (10-4, 3.77 ERA) hopes to return to his dominant June form after one mediocre start before the break. He has 119 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings.
Angels: Andrew Heaney (5-6, 3.78 ERA) will match his career high with his 18th start already this season. He pitched eight innings of four-hit ball in May to beat the Astros for the first time.
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