Andrew Heaney shuts down Astros in Angels' 2-1 rivalry win
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After Andrew Heaney induced a long flyout with his 100th and final pitch, he left the mound with the fervent hope that the Los Angeles Angels were on their way to a victory that would deliver a statement to the mighty Houston Astros.
With late help from Kole Calhoun's arm in right field, the Angels made it.
Heaney struck out 10 during a career-high eight innings of four-hit ball, and the Angels pulled percentage points ahead of Houston atop the AL West with a 2-1 victory over the Astros on Monday night.
"It's good to get a win to start a series against a divisional team, and a team that we think we're going to be fighting tooth and nail with to the end," said Heaney, who also matched his career best in strikeouts.
Justin Upton singled home the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning for the Angels (25-16), who beat the defending World Series champions (26-17) for the third time in four meetings this season.
Luis Valbuena drove in an early run for the Angels in the opener of a three-game series between the Astros and their most significant early-season rival in the AL West. The Angels entered the week trailing the Astros by just one game after trailing Houston by eight games at the same point last season.
Heaney (2-2) led the way, limiting Houston to five baserunners over eight innings while outpitching Lance McCullers Jr., who took his first loss in seven starts since April 6.
"I think we want to establish that it's not a (surprise) we just won that game," Heaney said. "It's (saying) we can beat those guys. We're just as good, if not better than these guys."
Houston native Justin Anderson allowed three baserunners in the ninth, but the Angels rookie still earned his first career save with help from Calhoun , whose profound struggles at the plate haven't affected his superb defense.
After the right fielder caught Alex Bregman's long fly in foul territory, he pivoted and threw out speedy George Springer, who tagged up and attempted to take second.
"It helped us win the game, so that's why I liked it," Calhoun said.
Calhoun's throw and Andrelton Simmons' clever tag on Springer completed a double play with Calhoun's major league-leading sixth outfield assist.
"That's a hard throw to make, but he's one of the best," Springer said of Calhoun. "He made a great throw, and you move on to tomorrow."
Anderson then allowed Jose Altuve's single and walked Carlos Correa in the ninth, but survived when Yuli Gurriel grounded out.
Max Stassi drove in an early run for the Astros, who lost for only the second time in seven games.
"That's a big win for us, playing one of the hottest teams in baseball," Anderson said. "Took a little longer, made it a little more interesting for everybody, but it was fun."
McCullers (5-2) pitched six innings of four-hit ball while striking out six. But in the sixth, McCullers walked Martin Maldonado and Mike Trout before Upton's two-out single to left.
The RBI was the 19th of the month for Upton, who came into the night leading the majors in RBIs in May.
HEANDOG VS HOUSTON
The 26-year-old Heaney has excelled against the powerhouse Astros, who have scored just one earned run and struck out 19 times against him in 19 career innings over three games. He returned late last season from Tommy John surgery, and is gradually rounding into the form long expected from the former ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft.
"It's probably the best game I've pitched in my career, for sure," Heaney said. "Hopefully not of a lifetime. Hopefully there's a lot more of those to come."
Reliever Keynan Middleton went back on the 10-day disabled list with ligament damage in his right elbow, dealing another potentially serious blow to a pitching staff annually plagued by injuries. He is expected to seek more medical advice before deciding on a course of treatment.
Griffin Canning, the Angels' second-round pick last summer, started his second combined no-hitter of the season for Double-A Mobile. Canning, a UCLA product, threw 4 1/3 innings as the BayBears blanked Birmingham 9-0.
Astros: Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.43 ERA) is off to a stellar start with his new club, leading the AL with 86 strikeouts. The Orange County native and UCLA product will make just his second career start at Angel Stadium, where his parents had season tickets.
Angels: Rookie Jaime Barria (3-1, 2.45 ERA) makes his fifth career start after pitching scoreless ball into the sixth at Colorado last week.