Angels score go-ahead runs in 8th inning of victory over Astros

ANAHEIM — The Angels bounced back from an ugly weekend to pick up an encouraging victory.

The Angels scored two runs in the eighth to snap a tie and then Carlos Estévez worked the ninth to close out a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

Over the previous two days, the Angels allowed 26 runs in a pair of blowout losses to the Texas Rangers.

This victory, coming the night before Shohei Ohtani takes the mound, gives them a chance to get some momentum back in the right direction.

“It’s awesome just to see the fight,” Taylor Ward said. “It’s really cool. It’s fun to be a part of.”

The Angels trailed in the third and fifth innings, both times tying the score immediately after the Astros took the lead.

They took their final lead in the bottom of the eighth. Anthony Rendon drew a leadoff walk. He scored on Brandon Drury’s one-out triple off the center field fence.

Drury said he’d gotten too passive in his earlier at-bats – going hitless – so he jumped on the first pitch he saw from Rafael Montero in the eighth.

“Marcus told me to be aggressive,” Drury said, referring to hitting coach Marcus Thames. “He said ‘That’s what works for you, what makes you good.’ So I was being aggressive there and I got a good pitch to hit.”

Matt Thaiss then hit the first pitch he saw to center field for a sacrifice fly, knocking in an insurance run.

Drury and Thaiss, the sixth and seventh hitters, finished off the offense on a night when eight of the nine Angels starters reached base with a hit or walk. The only one who didn’t was Mike Trout.

“I feel bad for the pitchers out there,” Ward said. “There’s really no stop (in the Angels’ lineup). You never know when you’re going to make a bad pitch and regret it.”

After the Angels built their two-run lead, Estévez pitched a perfect ninth to convert his eighth save in eight tries. He took over after Matt Moore retired all five batters he faced.

The Angels’ bullpen has actually been better than the starters lately.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval gave up four runs in 6-1/3 innings on Monday. It wasn’t a quality start, but it was the first time in nine games that an Angels starter finished the sixth inning.

Sandoval had allowed just one hit the first time through the order, including two quick outs to start the third. He then gave up a single to Mauricio Dubon, a triple to Alex Bregman, a double to Yordan Alvarez and a double to José Abreu.

Sandoval also gave up a homer to No. 9 hitter David Hensley in the fifth inning.

“I’m not satisfied with how my stuff was today,” Sandoval said. “I left a lot of pitches out over the plate. I wasn’t able to finish guys when I got 0-and-2, 1-and-2, but I gave us a chance to win and that’s all I can really ask for.”

The Angels’ hitters picked up Sandoval each time he allowed runs, getting those runs back immediately.

In the third, Shohei Ohtani doubled home a run and then Anthony Rendon singled to drive in the tying run. In the fifth, Ohtani doubled off the right field fence to tie the score at 4-4.

Ward was in the middle of both rallies with two of his three hits. Ward, who was moved back into the leadoff spot after he had been dropped when he was slumping, is now 11 for 27 (.407) in his last seven games.

The Angels mixed some exceptional defense with a couple of mistakes, by the same players.

Right fielder Hunter Renfroe made an error when he couldn’t stop a ball rolling along the fence in the third inning. He also threw out Alvarez trying to stretch a single into a double, and he made two nice running catches.

Rendon, the third baseman, made a spectacular diving stop in the fourth inning, and then he booted a routine grounder in the seventh.

Although it wasn’t perfect, the sum of the Angels’ efforts was still good enough for a victory they needed.

“It was huge,” Sandoval said. “The last two or three years I don’t think we pull that one out, to be honest. It was a big one for us today. I love the way they played out there, flying around on defense. Renfroe making a hell of a play on Alvarez double attempt and the boys got run after run. The (Astros) score and they weren’t afraid to come back and score for us. It was awesome. They had my back the whole game. It was a good team win.”

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