mlb

Valdez, Astros end Angels’ winning streak

Framber Valdez throws a complete game for the Astros to snap the Angels winning streak.

ANAHEIM — After netting their first home sweep of the season earlier this week, the Angels’ woes at home returned in a 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday at Angel Stadium.

Framber Valdez was excellent for the Astros after being roughed up by the Angels on May 20. In that start, Valdez allowed eight hits in five innings and the Angels beat the Astros 9-7.

He was much sharper Friday and allowed just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in a complete game. It was the seventh career complete game for Valdez and his first since August 1 of 2023.

“He just stayed with his sinker tonight,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “That’s how he got the 15 ground balls. A few guys he punched out three times. He was on his game tonight.”

Kevin Pillar hit a solo home run to left field in the second inning which was the only blemish on a remarkable start for Valdez.

The Angels were tied with the Astros for most of the game until the Astros scored five runs in the seventh inning to blow the game open.

Griffin Canning was cruising through six innings, but allowed back-to-back singles to former Angel Trey Cabbage and Jose Altuve in the seventh. Washington pulled Canning in favor of reliever Hunter Strickland.

On paper, the decision to turn to Strickland made sense. Strickland had yet to allow an inherited runner to score this season and hadn’t allowed an earned run in 10 consecutive outings.

Strickland walked Alex Bregman after home plate umpire Jonathan Parra missed what would have been the third strike. Yordan Alvarez then cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Astros a 4-1 lead.

Washington and Strickland agreed the pitch was a strike, but downplayed its effect on the loss.

“I thought it was down the middle, but what can you do about it,” Washington said. “It might have made a difference getting him out there we probably could pitch around Alvarez. You can use that, but we still had an opportunity to get out of that inning without giving up five.”

“I thought it was there,” Strickland said. “We are all human. If it’s a mistake, it’s a mistake. Obviously the pitches after that were mistakes on my end so I’ve got to do better.”

Yainer Diaz followed that with a two-run home run off Strickland to give Houston a 6-1 lead. The home run was just the second allowed by Strickland this season and the first since April 17.

“I saw the same thing I’ve always seen, the only thing is the results were different,” Washington said. “He’s human. How can you continue to do what he did? I’m certain when he gets the ball again, he’ll get us three outs. Tonight was just one of those nights.”

Roansy Contreras allowed a home run to Jose Abreu, who is having the worst season of his career. The home run was just the second of the season for Abreu, who has a batting average of .122.

The disappointing performance by the bullpen marred another solid start by Canning. He threw just 80 pitches and allowed three runs in 6.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts.

It is the seventh consecutive start in which Canning has allowed three runs or fewer.

“I felt pretty good,” Canning said. “Just really trying to go one pitch at a time and execute pitches.”

A bright spot for the Angels Friday was the defense from third baseman Luis Rengifo. Rengifo made a highlight reel play in the sixth inning when he dove to his right to rob Victor Caratini of a hit.

The Angels are 24-39 on the season and 10-22 at home. Tyler Anderson will start for the Angels Saturday against Hunter Brown for the Astros.