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OC Register: Angels struggle against former Cy Young lefty Dallas Keuchel, lose to Astros

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  • GettyImages-10029560121.jpg

    Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gets a tap on the leg from manager Mike Scioscia as Ohtani walks down into the dugout after striking out in the second inning during the MLB game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 20, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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    Pitcher Tyler Skaggs of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning during the MLB game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium on July 20, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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    Pitcher Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on July 20, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

  • ASTROS_ANGELS_BASEBALL_26436566-e1532147

    Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani of Japan, reacts after striking out during the seventh inning of the team’s baseball game against the Houston Astros in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, July 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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    The Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani watches from the dugout against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)



ANAHEIM — Dallas Keuchel wasn’t likely to be the pitcher who would be the antidote for the Angels’ woes against lefties.

The Angels didn’t get a hit off the former Cy Young winner until the seventh inning, and they lost 3-1 to the Houston Astros in the first game after the All-Star break on Friday night.

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The Angels hit a few balls hard against Keuchel, but all of them found gloves until Justin Upton blistered a line drive that nicked the glove of leaping shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.

Upton became just the Angels’ second baserunner of the night, after David Fletcher’s walk in the fourth inning.

Upton nearly drove in Fletcher with a line drive toward right field, but first baseman Yuli Gurriel made a sensational diving catch, denying the Angels in what was their best scoring opportunity in the first seven innings.

They finally got a run in the eighth, thanks to Ian Kinsler’s single and then a poor decision by Gonzalez to try to get him at third instead of taking the out at first. Kinsler then scored on a sacrifice fly that would have been the third out.

The Angels’ troubles against Keuchel were predictable. They came into the game hitting .224 against lefties, which was second worst in the majors. They have now lost 19 of 28 games started by lefties.

If it was an issue against garden-variety lefties, it was likely to be even more of a problem against Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young winner. Keuchel got off to a slow start this season, but over his previous six starts he had a 2.17 ERA.

While Keuchel had been on a hot streak, the Angels answered with the pitcher who had been their best for most of the season.

Tyler Skaggs had been enjoy the best extended stretch of his career, bringing a 2.57 ERA into the game. He had allowed one earned run or fewer in six straight starts, tied for the second longest such streak in Angels history.

Skaggs, however, gave up single runs in each of the first three innings on Friday, as that streak came to an end.

It could have been worse, but it also could have been better.

In the first, George Springer led off with a single but then appeared to be caught stealing. Springer dove back into first and acrobatically twisted to avoid Jefry Marte’s tag. He was called out, but the play was overturned on review.

Skaggs then walked Alex Bregman and gave up José Altuve’s bouncer up the middle, driving in a run.

In the second, Skaggs gave up three straight singles to start the inning, but he nearly escaped. He got a strikeout and then Springer hit a popup into shallow center. Second baseman Ian Kinsler took it, rather than yielding to Mike Trout behind him. Since Kinsler caught it with his momentum going away from the infield, Josh Reddick tagged up and scored.

The Astros got another run in the third on a two-out walk to Evan Gattis and Reddick’s triple down the right-field line.

After that, Skaggs tightened and did not even allow another hit. He gave up three runs in six innings, the minimum quality start.

More to come on this story.

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