HOUSTON — Defensively speaking, the Los Angeles Angels showed up to play Sunday.
The same could not be said of the offense.
Starter Daniel Wright gave up two home runs, and the Angels’ bats fell flat in a 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros that ended a four-game winning streak.
“Defensively, we played a very good game; that was good to see,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t get any momentum.”
The Angels could not figure out Astros starter Joe Musgrove, who lifted Houston in more ways than one.
With his team in desperate need of a win to remain in playoff contention, Musgrove pitched seven strong innings to help snap a three-game slide.
“He had a tremendous game today at a time (when) we needed it,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Evan Gattis, Tony Kemp and Tyler White each homered for Houston, which remained three games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild-card spot.
Wright (0-5) lasted six innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits.
“I left the changeup up to Kemp that he hit out, and then the fastball up to Gattis to lead off both those innings,” Wright said. “I just have to get better at going out there from the first pitch of each inning and be ready to go.”
The Angels kept the game close by turning four double plays.
“The defense definitely came to play today, because they got me out of some jams,” Wright said.
Rafael Ortega drove in Los Angeles’ run in the fourth, his single up the middle scoring C.J. Cron, who finished with two doubles.
Playoffs aspirations aside, Musgrove had another pressing reason to make his start count for Houston.
“Today was a tough day,” said Musgrove, referring to the news of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday at age 24. “There are a few guys in here that are handling it a little worse than the rest of us from having personal relationships with Jose.
“The energy was a little bit down, so I was hoping to go out there and pitch a strong seven.”
That he did.
Musgrove (4-4) allowed one run on seven hits while striking out four.
Closer Ken Giles rebounded from a blown save in Friday’s 10-6 loss to Los Angeles. He walked one and struck out two in the ninth for his 14th save.
“I just wanted to go out there and put up a zero,” Giles said. “I needed to do that for the team and show them that I can bounce back.”
Carlos Correa singled home Jose Altuve in the Houston first.
An inning later, Gattis homered off Wright, connecting for the 31st time this season.
Kemp and White later added solo shots.
MAYBE NEXT YEAR
For Scioscia, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season.
“I’ve been in this game a long time, and I just know that your quest for a championship doesn’t stop if you’re eliminated from the playoffs,” Scioscia said. “You are always working toward that championship, and for us it begins today.”
Astros: Before the game, Hinch said he was worried about Giles’ flexibility and ability to throw, a day after he injured his right wrist when he was hit by a line drive during batting practice. X-rays were negative.
“I think he’s got a chance to be a little bit stiff,” Hinch said after the game. “Given that it’s a contusion, he’ll be all right.”
Angels: Jered Weaver (12-12, 5.20 ERA) will attempt to close out September on a winning note when Los Angeles hosts Oakland and LHP Sean Manaea (6-9, 4.03) on Monday. Weaver is 2-1 in four starts this month.
Astros: Collin McHugh (12-10, 4.61) faces fellow RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12, 4.04) to open a three-game series against Seattle. McHugh is 4-0 against the Mariners this season.