ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Dallas Keuchel took a no-hitter into the seventh and finished with 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball in the Houston Astros’ 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Justin Upton broke up Keuchel’s bid with two outs in the seventh when his line drive escaped the glove of leaping Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. The Angel Stadium scorer awarded a hit instead of an error on what would have been a fine defensive play if Gonzalez had held on.
Keuchel (8-8) shrugged it off and improved to 5-0 in his last seven appearances for the Astros (65-35), who are off to the second-best start through 100 games in franchise history.
Josh Reddick had an RBI triple for the Astros. Only last season’s World Series champions got off to a better start than these Astros, who are 15 games ahead of the injury-plagued Angels (49-49) in the AL West.
Keuchel retired the Angels’ first nine batters before walking David Fletcher to open the fourth. The heavily bearded lefty then retired the Angels’ next 11 batters before Upton’s hit with solid defensive help, getting within seven outs of the first no-hitter by a left-handed pitcher in the history of the Astros, who have 11 no-hitters.
Yuli Gurriel made an impressive diving catch on Upton’s liner to first base to end the fourth inning, and Kyle Tucker plucked Andrelton Simmons’ sinking liner right before it hit the left-field grass leading off the seventh.
Mike Trout went 0 for 3 and Shohei Ohtani struck out three times against Keuchel, who left to a big ovation after Jabari Blash’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Gonzalez nearly made the play to save the no-hitter, but the 6-foot-1 shortstop couldn’t quite hang onto Upton’s liner. Houston’s regular shortstop, injured Carlos Correa, is 6-foot-4.
Ian Kinsler added a clean leadoff single in the eighth and scored on Blash’s first RBI for the Angels.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his ninth save. He got a generous call to strike out Trout, who went 0 for 4 for only the second time since June 8.
The Astros piled up five singles and scored two runs off Tyler Skaggs (7-6) in the first two innings before Reddick’s drive down the right-field line scored Evan Gattis in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Skaggs settled into six innings of six-hit ball in yet another strong start, but the left-hander took just his second loss since May.
Before Ohtani went 0 for 3 as the Angels’ designated hitter, he played catch in the outfield for the second straight day since getting approval to begin a throwing program. The two-way rookie took six weeks off from throwing to rest the sprained ligament in his pitching elbow after getting treatment with platelet-rich plasma and stem cells. The Angels hope he’ll pitch again this season.
Astros: Correa won’t return from his lower back injury until after this five-game road trip. He has been out since June 25, and he hasn’t resumed baseball activities while making “slow but steady progress,” manager AJ Hinch said.
Angels: Albert Pujols is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday, manager Mike Scioscia said. The 38-year-old slugger went on the disabled list July 13 with left knee inflammation, one day after hitting his 629th and 630th career homers. … Reliever Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless rehab inning for Triple-A Salt Lake. He has been out since June 12 with a lumbar strain, but should be back in LA’s bullpen shortly.
Astros: Justin Verlander (9-5, 2.29 ERA) went winless in his final six starts before the All-Star break, but has already beaten the Angels twice this year, allowing two runs in 16 innings.
Angels: Nick Tropeano (3-4, 4.83 ERA) returns from a 31-game injury absence with right shoulder inflammation. Although he has been effective when healthy this season, he has never beaten the Astros in his career, and hasn’t won at Angel Stadium since May 18, 2016
By GREG BEACHAM
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