Angels struggle at plate in 4-1 loss to Astros

Written By kolimtiga on Kamis, 04 September 2014 | 12.56

KEY MOMENT: Jose Altuve hit a one-out double to left field in the eighth inning and Chris Carter hit a two-out home run to right against reliever Fernando Salas to extend a 2-1 Astros lead to 4-1. It was Carter's second home run of the game, his 35th this season — the third-most in the major leagues behind Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (36) and Baltimore's Nelson Cruz (36) — and his 11th in the last two years against the Angels.

AT THE PLATE: The Angels scored in the third inning when Efren Navarro and Kole Calhoun singled and shortstop Jonathan Villar booted Mike Trout's potential inning-ending double-play grounder for an error. The Angels had two on with one out after the miscue but Albert Pujols struck out looking at a slow curve and Josh Hamilton flied to center field.

ON THE MOUND: Jered Weaver (15-8) gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, one coming on Carter's towering home run that barely cleared the wall in left field in the second inning. "That's why I like pitching in Anaheim," Weaver said of the Angels' pitcher-friendly park. "I thought he mis-hit it off the end of the bat, but he's as strong as an ox." Angels reliever Jason Grilli threw a scoreless seventh. Chad Qualls threw a one-two-three ninth for his 17th save.

DOUBLE DOWN: Matt Shoemaker won American League pitcher-of-the-month and rookie-of-the-month honors for August after going 6-1 with a 1.31 earned-run average, 38 strikeouts and six walks in 411/3 innings. He joins Mike Trout (July 2012) as the only Angel to win player or pitcher of the month and rookie honors in the same month. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Michigan University in 2008, Shoemaker pitched six minor league seasons before making his big league debut last September. He is 14-4 with a 3.14 ERA this season. "At home during the off-season, I can use it as motivation for the younger kids," Shoemaker said. "If people say you can't do something, you go out and do the best you can and keep getting better."

TAKING THE FIFTH: Manager Mike Scioscia is not ready to commit to Cory Rasmus to start Saturday in Minnesota, even though the right-hander gave up one hit and struck out six batters in three scoreless innings of his start against Oakland on Saturday. "It's not quite a game-time decision, but it's certainly a day-before-game decision," Scioscia said. "You can say someone is going to start, but then tomorrow you might be in the 14th inning, and it will change. We're not going to look past a game we feel we can win to save someone to start for that fifth spot, because we have multiple options."

EXTRA BASES: Scioscia said left-hander Joe Thatcher, out since Aug. 3 because of a left-ankle sprain, should begin throwing simulated-game innings this weekend, after which the Angels should have a better idea of when he will return. … Thursday night starter Hector Santiago has given up only seven earned runs over 43 innings of his last nine outings for a 1.47 ERA.

UP NEXT: Santiago (4-7, 3.28 ERA) will oppose Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson (11-10, 4.23) on Thursday at 5 p.m. PDT at Target Field. On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 830.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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