ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After eight strong innings from Shohei Ohtani on Saturday night, the last thing Matt Duffy and the Los Angeles Angels wanted was to make sure that effort was in vain.
Thanks to Duffy, it wasn't.
Duffy's bloop single in the 12th inning drove in Taylor Ward with the winning run as the Angels rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros.
Earlier in the game, Ohtani reached 400 major league strikeouts. The Japanese two-way phenom threw a season-high 111 pitches, allowing six hits and striking out five. It was the fourth time in the majors — and second this year — he has gone eight innings.
“You never want to waste an outing like that. What he does on the mound, it’s crazy,” said Duffy, who had the fourth walk-off hit of his career and first since 2018. “People were talking about (Yankees slugger Aaron) Judge for MVP, but he's got to break (Roger) Maris' (home run mark) to be in the conversation for me. I mean, some people might think that’s ridiculous in New York, I’m sure. But what Ohtani does on both sides of the ball. I mean, just because it’s boring to you doesn’t mean it isn't exceptional.”
With Ward as the automatic runner in the 12th, Max Stassi drew a walk from Will Smith with two outs. Seth Martinez (0-2) came on and Astros center fielder Mauricio Dubon appeared to make a diving catch on Duffy’s ball, but first-base umpire Jordan Baker said Dubon didn’t come up with it in time.
Instant replay upheld the call as the ball hit the ground before Dubon was able to get his glove on it.
Ryan Tepera (3-2) pitched a scoreless inning to pick up the win.
Ohtani and Houston's Luis Garcia were locked in an entertaining pitchers duel as each just allowed one run. Garcia went seven innings, struck out seven and gave up only three hits with two walks.
“That’s a tough one to lose. You’re not gonna keep beating these guys over and over and over. But, we’d like to,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Through 23 starts this year, Ohtani has 181 strikeouts, which is eighth in the majors, and his 2.58 ERA is ninth.
Just 10 pitchers in MLB history have reached 400 strikeouts faster than Ohtani. The list includes Dwight Gooden, Hideo Nomo, San Diego’s Yu Darvish, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber and Noah Syndergaard, who began the year with the Angels before being traded to Philadelphia.
It is the third time this season the Angels won when being held to four or fewer hits.
Ohtani retired the first 10 Astros' hitters before Yuli Gurriel beat the shift and lined a base hit into right field in the fourth inning. The Angels quickly got out of the inning though when Alex Bregman ground into a double play.
“It probably was his best outing of the year just considering where we were and the way the game was going,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “Even the run was soft contact. He was really good. Really, really good.”
Houston was able to scratch across a run in the fifth. Trey Mancini hit a line-drive double to the wall in right-center and J.J. Matijevic followed with an RBI single into the left-field gap.
“They have a great lineup. I wanted to pitch as long as I could,” said Ohtani through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “The defense made good plays to help keep the pitch count down."
The Angels were held to two hits through six innings before evening it in the seventh. Luis Rengifo had a leadoff hit to right field and advanced to second on Ward's walk. Both players advanced on Mike Ford's fly ball to deep center before Ryan Aguilar's sacrifice fly to right drove in Rengifo. It also was Aguilar’s first career RBI.
Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez missed his fifth straight game due to hand soreness. He hit from the batting cages before Saturday's game and may be back in the lineup on Sunday. ... INF/OF Aledmys Díaz (left groin discomfort) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Sugar Land on Thursday. ... RHP Justin Verlander (right calf) threw on flat ground in Houston. ... RHP Ryan Pressly (neck spasms) threw a 26-pitch bullpen session before the game and could be activated by Tuesday.
Angels: RHP Michael Lorenzen (right shoulder strain) did well in Friday's rehab start with Class A Inland Empire and will come off the 60-day injured list within the next 5-7 days. Lorenzen's last big league start was on July 1.
Astros: RHP José Urquidy (12-5, 3.69 ERA) is receiving an average run support of 6.60 per start, which leads the majors.
Angels: LHP Tucker Davidson (2-4, 5.77) faces Houston for the first time.
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