HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out 11 in six dominant innings, Jose Altuve capped a nine-run eighth with a two-run homer, and the Houston Astros rallied for a 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
After the Angels scored five times in the top of the eighth, Yuli Gurriel, Brian McCann and Evan Gattis each hit RBI singles off of Ty Buttrey (0-1) to close the lead to 5-4. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch-hitter Tyler White hit a chopper to Taylor Ward, who threw it into right field, allowing two runs to score.
George Springer followed with a two-run single off of Blake Parker. Altuve, who led off the inning with a walk, launched a two-run homer onto the train tracks in left field.
The AL West-leading Astros began the day 3½ games ahead of Oakland.
Verlander allowed one hit and hit one batter in six innings. The right-hander retired the last 15 batters he faced after allowing Justin Upton’s single to lead off the second, including ten by strikeout.
Verlander reached double digits in strikeouts for the third straight outing and has 12 such games this season. He set a career high with 280 strikeouts, besting the 269 he had in 2009.
Houston’s pitching staff broke a major league record by striking out 1,615 batters this season, reaching the mark when Roberto Osuna fanned Sherman Johnson to lead off the ninth. The Astros have eight games remaining.
The Angels jumped on the Astros’ bullpen in the eighth. Francisco Arcia tied the game at 1 with an RBI double off Hector Rondon, and Mike Trout launched a three-run homer to left-center off Joe Smith. Andrelton Simmons added an RBI double.
Collin McHugh (6-2) earned the win after getting the final two outs in the top of the eighth.
Gattis hit an RBI single in the fourth to put the Astros ahead.
Jaime Barria allowed one run on four hits in five innings.
Angels: 1B Jose Fernandez left with a bruised right hand after being hit by a 96-mph fastball from Verlander in the first inning. X-rays were negative. The pitch was the 14th of the at-bat. Jefry Marte replaced Fernandez.
RHP Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.15 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday against LHP Tyler Skaggs (8-8, 3.69). Morton is on a three-game winning streak and has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last three starts. Skaggs is making his second start since coming off the disabled list after throwing three scoreless innings in his last outing Tuesday at the Athletics.
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