Angels crush Astros 9-0 with 8 extra-base hits

(TSX / STATS) -- ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Tyler Skaggs threw seven shutout innings, and the Los Angeles Angels supported him with eight extra-base hits in a 9-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Skaggs (2-5) allowed three hits, all in the first three innings, struck out five and walked one in an 85-pitch effort. The left-hander earned his first win since April 22.

Luis Valbuena homered in a five-run first inning, and Justin Upton launched his first home run since he was acquired by the Angels on Aug. 31 and the 250th of his 11-year career.

The Angels (74-71) remained two games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot. Houston (87-58) still has a magic number of five to clinch the AL West.

Los Angeles scored five runs in the first inning against Astros starter Mike Fiers, a late replacement for Lance McCullers Jr., who felt arm fatigue.

The first inning started just the way it did against the Astros on Tuesday. In that game, Brandon Phillips led off with a line-drive double into the left field corner against Justin Verlander.

The big difference was Verlander didn't allow another hit in the next eight innings en route to a 1-0 victory, but against Fiers, the Angels followed with three more doubles and a two-run homer by Valbuena to take a 5-0 lead.

Both benches were warned in the fourth inning by plate umpire Cory Blaser after Fiers threw a fastball about 5 feet over the head of Valbuena, who played the last two seasons with Houston and has gained notice for his celebratory bat flips after home runs and other productive at-bats.

Valbuena then doubled into the right field corner on the next pitch, C.J. Cron walked, Martin Maldonado sacrificed and Phillips followed with a two-run single for a 7-0 lead.

Fiers was removed after Albert Pujols grounded an RBI single up the middle to make it 8-0. Fiers went 3 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs and 10 hits.

The Astros lost center fielder Jake Marisnick to a right thumb injury after he was called out on a headfirst slide while trying to take second on a looper that fell into shallow right field in the third inning.

The ball trickled a short distance behind right fielder Kole Calhoun, prompting Marisnick to break for second. Angels first baseman Cron retrieved the ball and threw to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who held the tag until Marisnick's fingers lifted slightly off the bag.

Marisnick flexed his hand as he walked off the field and was replaced in the bottom of the inning by Derek Fisher, who entered the game in left field as Cameron Maybin moved to center.

NOTES: Angels RF Kole Calhoun hit his 21st double of the season in the first inning. He's one of three right fielders in the majors with at least 20 doubles and 15 home runs each of the past four seasons, joining Jay Bruce of the Cleveland Indians and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. ... Andrelton Simmons hit his 36th double of the season in the first inning, second most in a season by an Angels shortstop behind the 45 by Orlando Cabrera in 2006. ... Astros RHP Collin McHugh threw an abbreviated bullpen session and isn't expected to make his next start until next week at the earliest. McHugh left after three innings against the Oakland A's on Friday after feeling discomfort from a fingernail issue. He was scratched from his scheduled Thursday start against the Angels.


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