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Angels struggle to produce offense in loss to Astros

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  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Anderson throws during the...

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Anderson throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Houston Astros starting pitcher Hunter Brown throws during the first...

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Hunter Brown throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Taylor Ward begins to return to second...

    Los Angeles Angels’ Taylor Ward begins to return to second base after advancing on a single by Willie Calhoun against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Los Angeles Angels catcher Matt Thaiss, left, tags out Houston...

    Los Angeles Angels catcher Matt Thaiss, left, tags out Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak catches a line...

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak catches a line hit by Houston Astros’ Chas McCormick during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, right, celebrates his two-run home run...

    Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, right, celebrates his two-run home run with third base coach Gary Pettis during the fifth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, right, celebrates after his...

    Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, right, celebrates after his two-run home run with Alex Bregman during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. Bregman also scored on the hit. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

  • Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, left, speaks with Los Angeles Angels...

    Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, left, speaks with Los Angeles Angels second baseman Luis Guillorme, right, after stealing second during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

ANAHEIM — The Angels tweaked their lineup on Saturday against the Houston Astros, but the result was eerily similar to the night before.

The Angels couldn’t come up with a clutch hit while Yordan Alvarez continued to mash the ball for the Astros, adding up to a 6-1 victory by Houston in the second game of the three-game series at Angel Stadium.

The Angels (24-40) lost 7-1 in the series opener on Friday night when left-hander Framber Valdez threw a four-hitter and Alvarez blasted a three-run double in the five-run seventh inning.

Valdez finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, a single and was hit by a pitch. He drove in two runs and scored two.

“I wanted to walk him, but I can’t walk him when first base and second base are occupied,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “Every time he had the opportunity, we had to pay for it.”

Houston starter Hunter Brown (2-5) wasn’t nearly as efficient as Valdez, but discovered what worked as the game went along. He blanked the Angels on two hits over six innings, striking out seven, walking four and hitting a batter.

For the second straight night, a solo home run was all the run-production the Angels could muster, this time by Nolan Schanuel in the seventh inning.

Angels starter Tyler Anderson (5-6) went six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits. He struck out three and walked one.

The Astros (30-35) came into Saturday’s game with the 21st best ERA in the MLB (4.22), but the Angels hadn’t scored more than four runs in 14 straight games.

Chas McCormick led off the third with a triple off the wall in right field. Jose Altuve then sent him home with a line-drive single to left for a 1-0 lead.

After the Astros loaded the bases on a walk and hit batter, Anderson struck out the next two batters, but Jake Meyers came through with a single to left, scoring Altuve for a 2-0 lead.

Alex Bregman beat out an infield single with one out in the fifth before Alvarez lined a 3-1 pitch into the crowd in right for a 4-0 lead.

“The only chance I have to walk him is when he comes up and nobody’s on the bag, but I never got an opportunity to walk him,” Washington said of Alvarez. “That’s the baseball gods working right there.”

Rafael Montero relieved Brown to start the seventh and got the first two outs before Schanuel lined a homer to right to cut the lead to 4-1.

Following the home run, the Angels loaded the bases with three straight walks, the third after Houston catcher Yainer Diaz failed to catch a pop up behind home plate by Willie Calhoun.

Angels shortstop Zach Neto, who had never hit in the third through sixth spots in the batting order in his two-year MLB career, came up in the No. 5 spot and grounded weakly to first base to end the inning.

“If you look at the lineup I had to put out tonight, he was in front of a bunch of guys who were behind him,” Washington said of Neto. “He’s hitting .250, if you look at the rest of them (behind him), it was .130, .140, .190.”

Matt Thaiss was also in the starting lineup for the first time in a week, but he struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning against Brown, who came in with a 14.34 ERA in the opening frame this season.

“All night we put ourselves in position to put some runs on the board, we just couldn’t come up with a hit,” Washington said. “If we could have done something in one of those situations, it would have made a difference in that ballgame.”

The Angels were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first four innings before finishing 0 for 7.

“We have a group of young guys out there that just have to learn in those situations to try and keep the line moving,” Washington said. “Sometimes, they try to get out there and do more than they should. All we’ve got to do is keep trying to pass the baton and good things can happen.”

The Astros, meanwhile, went 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position, including RBI singles by Diaz and Mauricio Dubon in the eighth that stretched the lead to 6-1.

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