Valdez fans 12, sends Ohtani to 1st loss in Astros' 3-1 win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Framber Valdez racked up 12 strikeouts over eight innings of three-hit ball and sent Shohei Ohtani to his first mound loss of the season in the Houston Astros' 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Ohtani (4-1) passed Babe Ruth in career mound strikeouts while giving up six hits over seven innings, but the two-way superstar struggled through the fifth. He finished with seven strikeouts, but he has yielded at least three runs in three consecutive starts for the first time in his major league career.

Martín Maldonado hit a two-run homer and Yordan Alvarez had an RBI single in the fifth for the defending World Series champion Astros, who snapped their three-game losing streak.

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Valdez (3-4) was back in ace form after a few up-and-down starts. He held Ohtani hitless at the plate, limited Mike Trout to one single and didn't issue a walk while finishing one strikeout shy of his career high, also established against Los Angeles last July.

Rookie shortstop Zach Neto hit his first big league homer for the Angels, who have lost three of four.

Ohtani made history when he fanned Jeremy Peña in the second inning for his 502nd strikeout, passing Ruth's 501 K's, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ohtani and Ruth are the only players in major league history to strike out more than 500 batters while also hitting more than 100 homers.

Neto connected in the third inning, driving an errant sinker 387 feet to right-center.

Ohtani was sharp until five straight Astros reached base in the fifth inning, and Maldonado — a former Angels catcher — put Houston back ahead with his second homer this season. Ohtani had struggled in the fourth inning in each of his previous two starts.

Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his fifth save, striking out Ohtani along the way.


Chris Okey caught Ohtani in his abrupt debut with the Angels, who were forced to recall the 28-year-old from Triple-A Salt Lake with catchers Logan O'Hoppe, Max Stassi and Chad Wallach all sidelined.

Okey, who made his major league debut last season with seven appearances for Cincinnati, dropped an early third strike and committed interference to allow another Astros batter to reach base. Houston stole two bases off him and Ohtani, but Okey also threw out Peña at second to end the fourth inning.


Angels: Wallach went on the injured list with neck stiffness. ... 1B Jared Walsh is progressing toward ending his season-long absence with headaches. He could be ready for a rehab assignment this weekend.

Astros: Mauricio Dubón left the game with left hamstring discomfort after running to first on a single in the fifth. ... Michael Brantley is still “close” to returning, manager Dusty Baker said, but the veteran outfielder isn't swinging a bat in Anaheim while the team slows down his comeback. Brantley hasn't played since surgery last August to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.


Cristian Javier (2-1, 3.54 ERA) takes the mound for Houston in the daytime series finale Wednesday against Los Angeles' Griffin Canning (2-0, 5.31).


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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press