Ohtani hits 44th HR, but Astros tag him in win over Angels

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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, hits a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON – Shohei Ohtani hit his major league-leading 44th home run, but got tagged early by José Altuve, Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros in a 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

Ohtani (9-2) had been 8-0 in his last 13 starts since May 28, and gave himself a lead when he hit a solo homer in the first inning.

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But the two-way sensation yielded six runs on a career-high nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.

“I feel like they were sitting on my cutters and sliders for the most part,” Ohtani said through a translator. “Before I could make adjustments, I had runners on base all the time, and I couldn’t really try out new things.”

Altuve and Bregman were a combined 5 for 5 against Ohtani.

“That’s not a guy you would like to face all the time,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said of Ohtani. “We were putting some good at-bats together, hit some balls hard early. … It was good to get him out of the game pitching and get him out and his bat, which is as potent as his pitching is.”

Bregman, who had four RBIs, Altuve and Carlos Correa each had three hits for the AL West leaders.

“I think we did a good job of controlling the strike zone,” Bregman said. "He's got amazing stuff. I think we did a good job of looking for pitches we wanted to hit and put good swings on them.”

Bregman, who extended his hit streak to 10 games, had an RBI single as part of a three-run third and a two-run double as part of a six-run fourth as the Astros built a 9-4 lead. He also had a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Since returning from the injured list on Aug. 25, Bregman is 19 for 40.

“He’s a special hitter, special player,” Correa said. “He seems to get that timing real quick. He’s simple at the plate, doesn’t try to do too much, and that’s what makes him a great player.”

Correa had an RBI single and Yordan Álvarez hit an RBI double to give the Astros a 3-2 lead in the third.

Ohtani was chased in the fourth, an inning that included an RBI single by Altuve, Kyle Tucker reaching on a catcher’s interference against Kurt Suzuki with the bases loaded and a two-run single by Aledmys Díaz.

“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani. “There’s no swing and miss tonight as you saw. I thought he battled it well, but in my mind’s eye, there was no reason to push him right there. That’s one of those things when he’s not having his day, I don’t want to expend him on nights like tonight as a pitcher.”

Framber Valdez (10-5) allowed four earned runs on six hits with five walks and six strikeouts in five innings.

“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” Baker said. “As uncharacteristic as it was for us making errors (four errors total), we kept battling and battling and adding on and adding on. It was a good offensive night.”

Ohtani’s homer was the first home run to a left-handed hitter that Valdez has surrendered this season.

Jared Walsh homered for the Angels.


Ohtani became the first AL pitcher to be intentionally walked in over 51 years when Valdez intentionally walked him to load the bases with two outs in the fourth. The last AL pitcher to be intentionally walked was Jim Kaat of the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 1, 1970. After the walk to Ohtani, Valdez struck out Phil Gosselin to end the threat.


Angels: RHP Alex Cobb (right wrist inflammation) threw a three-inning simulated game on Friday that went well, Maddon said.

Astros: RHP Zack Greinke (health and safety protocols) was cleared to work out with the team and threw a bullpen session on Friday. Greinke could return and make a start as soon as the Astros next series at the Rangers that begins Monday, Baker said.


Angels: LHP José Suarez (6-7, 3.74) will start Saturday looking to build on his last outing where he pitched a complete game in a 4-1 win over the Rangers.

Astros: RHP Luis Garcia (10-6, 3.29 ERA) takes the mound Saturday trying to win his fourth straight decision.


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