ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Shohei Ohtani won his sixth straight start by striking out 12 in six innings and also hit a two-run triple in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
The two-way Japanese phenom — who improved to 9-4 — also became the fifth pitcher to have at least 50 strikeouts and allow one or fewer earned runs over a five-game span since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913. The others were Chris Sale (2018), Clayton Kershaw (2014-15), R.A. Dickey (2012) and Randy Johnson (1997).
During his six-game winning streak, Ohtani has allowed only three runs (two earned) in 39 2/3 innings and 20 hits with 58 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Luis Rengifo had three hits and drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single in the sixth for the Angels, who snapped a five-game losing streak. Mike Trout sat out with back spasms.
Houston’s Cristian Javier, who struck out 14 Angels on July 1, went only 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs but had 10 strikeouts. The last time a major league starter went less than four innings and recorded double-digit Ks was Cleveland’s Danny Salazar in 2014.
It was Ohtani’s final start on the mound before next Tuesday’s All-Star Game just up at the road at Dodger Stadium. The reigning AL MVP was selected to his second straight All-Star Game as a hitter and a pitcher.
Houston manager Dusty Baker, who is managing the AL squad, said it’s a possibility Ohtani could start on the mound for the second straight year.
Yuli Gurriel’s RBI single in the fourth inning drove in Kyle Tucker and was the first earned run Ohtani allowed in 31 2/3 innings It was the longest run by a Halos starter since John Lackey went 30 2/3 innings in 2006.
Ohtani equaled Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in two areas Wednesday. He’s the first Angels hurler since Ryan to post double-digit strikeouts in four straight games. Ohtani’s two-run triple into the right-field corner in the second inning, which extended the lead to 3-0, made him the first Angels starter since Ryan in 1972 to hit a three-bagger.
It’s the third time this season Ohtani has had double-digit strikeouts and multiple RBIs in a game. The only other pitchers to accomplish that are Atlanta’s Kevin Millwood in 1999 and Hal Newhouser with Detroit in 1946.
WHOLE LOT OF K’S: There were a combined 32 strikeouts by both teams, the most in an MLB game this season and an American League record for a nine-inning game. The Angels struck out 17 times and the Astros 15.
SMALL BALL: Two of the Angels’ 12 hits came on bunt singles, including Brandon Marsh’s down the third-base line to bring home Jonathan Villar in the third inning for the game’s first run.
TRAINER’S ROOM: Angels' RHP Jimmy Herget (right shoulder impingement) threw a bullpen session Tuesday with another planned at the end of the week.
ROSTER MOVE: With Trout sitting out, outfielder Jo Adell was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake. This is Adell’s third stint at the major-league level this season. Monte Harrison was designated for assignment. Adell had two hits, including an RBI single during a four-run sixth inning that put the game away.
UP NEXT: The teams conclude their series Thursday. Astros’ LHP Framber Valdez (8-4, 2.64 ERA) has a 7-4 career record against the Angels. Los Angeles has not named a starter.