Angels are routed for second consecutive game as Astros hit five home runs

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Los Angeles Angels' Aaron Loup wipes his face after giving up a home run to Houston Astros' Chas McCormick during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Angels reliever Aaron Loup wipes his face after giving up a home run to Houston's Chas McCormick during the seventh inning Saturday. The Angels lost 9-1. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Martin Maldonado homered twice and Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick added a home run each as the Houston Astros built a big lead early and didn’t let up in a 9-1 rout of the Angels on Saturday.

Houston was up 5-0 after two innings.

"That’s what was eluding us early in the season — we weren’t scoring early," manager Dusty Baker said. "When you score early, it relaxes the pitcher and it relaxes our offense."

The Astros followed up their 8-1 win in the series opener Friday night with another lopsided victory to extend their winning streak to five games.

Houston starter Jose Urquidy (7-3) yielded two hits and a run and struck out eight in six innings to improve the team’s starters to 7-0 in the last nine games. This was the fifth straight game in which the Astros gave up no more than one run.

The Astros were already up 3-0 when Maldonado, who had just one hit in his previous four games, connected off Patrick Sandoval (3-3) to start the second inning.

Houston led by four in the sixth when Maldonado hit the first pitch from Andrew Wantz over the wall in straightaway center field to make it 6-1. It was the fourth multihomer game of Maldonado’s career and his first since 2019.

While Maldonado was certainly happy with his big day at the plate Saturday, he takes much more pride in the work he does with the pitching staff as Houston’s everyday catcher.

"I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and taking care of my pitchers, and that’s my No. 1 priority," he said. "Do I get excited when I have a day like this? Yeah, but for me it’s even better to go 0 for 4 with a win than four for four with a loss."

Four pitches later, Altuve gave Houston back-to-back homers when he hit an opposite-field shot to the seats in right field.

Aaron Loup took over for Wantz to start the seventh and was greeted with Tucker’s home run to right field. There were two outs when McCormick homered for the second consecutive game with his drive that extended the lead to 9-1.

Taylor Ward hit a solo home run in the third for the Angels, who continue to struggle offensively.

Angels star Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. He is 0 for 7 with seven strikeouts in this series.

Angels starter Patrick Sandoval pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning July 2, 2022.
Angels starter Patrick Sandoval gave up five runs in five innings and took the loss, falling to 3-3. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

"Just losing my posture up there," Trout said. "It makes my swing long. Just grinding through some stuff with the lower half. It’ll be all right."

Sandoval gave up eight hits and five runs while tying a season high with nine strikeouts in five innings for his second consecutive loss.

"Sandoval is a really good pitcher, obviously," Altuve said. "That’s why we tried to swing early today. He has good pitches, good changeups especially. And just to be able to score five runs in two innings and set the tone right there was good for us."

Yordan Alvarez, named American League player of the month Saturday, returned after missing two games following a nasty outfield collision with Jeremy Pena on Wednesday. He went 0 for 4 with a walk.

Tucker singled to score Altuve and put Houston up 1-0 in the first. Yuli Gurriel walked to load the bases before a single by Jake Meyers scored two to make it 3-0.

Maldonado opened the Houston second with his shot to the train tracks atop the left-field wall.

Altuve, who had three hits, doubled and stole third base with one out in the inning. He scored on Alex Bregman’s two-out single to make it 5-0.

Trainer's room

Angels: The team signed infielder Jonathan Villar, who was designated for assignment by the Cubs earlier in the week. Catcher Matt Thaiss was optioned to triple A to make a spot on the active roster for Villar, and right-hander Archie Bradley (elbow fracture) was moved to the 60-day injured list to make a spot for Villar on the 40-man roster.

Astros: Pitching coach Bill Murphy entered health and safety protocols. He joined bench coach Joe Espada, first base coach Omar Lopez and quality control coach Dan Firova, who entered the protocols Thursday. Minor league pitching coordinator Eric Niesen joined the team to fill in for Murphy.

Home sweet home

Altuve is hitting .346 with nine doubles, eight homers and a 1.066 on-base-plus-slugging percentage at home this season. His home OPS ranks third in the majors, and his batting average at home is sixth.

Up next

Houston left-hander Framber Valdez (8-3, 2.65 ERA) opposes Angels left-hander José Suarez (1-2, 4.36) when the series concludes Sunday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.