Bullpen blows eighth-in­ning lead in de­feat

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BASEBALL - jake.ka­plan@chron.com twitter.com/jakemka­plan By Jake Ka­plan

ANA­HEIM, Calif. — Tyler Clip­pard al­lowed a de­ci­sive three-run home run to An­drel­ton Sim­mons and the Astros squan­dered a five-run lead in a 7-6 loss to the Los An­ge­les An­gels on Satur­day night at An­gel Sta­dium.

Sim­mons’ blast, on a first-pitch split­ter, ce­mented a four-run eighth in­ning for the An­gels. All four runs scored with two outs. Two were charged to Fran­cis Martes, who be­gan the in­ning for the Astros.

The de­feat marked a missed op­por­tu­nity for the Astros (78-51), who lead the Bos­ton Red Sox by five games for the best record in the AL. The Red Sox (7356) lost a third con­sec­u­tive game ear­lier Satur­day.

Clip­pard and the Astros’ bullpen spoiled a strong start from Brad Pea­cock, who im­proved his ERA to 3.12 be­hind six in­nings of one-run ball. Pea­cock al­lowed only three hits, one a solo home run by Kole Cal­houn, and struck out eight against only one walk. Of his 96 pitches, 49 were slid­ers. Of those 49, 12 in­duced a swing and miss.

Ge­orge Springer and Jake Maris­nick each launched shots to left field in the game that trav­eled more than 400 feet. For Springer, it was only his sec­ond homer since the All-Star break but his 29th of the sea­son, match­ing the ca­reer high he set last sea­son. Maris­nick’s was his ca­reer-high 16th of the year.

The Astros jumped on the An­gels early. Josh Red­dick ripped a two-run sin­gle off left­hander Tyler Sk­aggs in the first in­ning. In the sec­ond, the Astros scored on a balk by Sk­aggs and an er­ror at third base by ex-Astro Luis Val­buena.

Be­fore Martes and Clip­pard, Francisco Liri­ano was charged with two runs in one-third of an in­ning of re­lief. The sec­ond of the two hits Liri­ano al­lowed was de­flected by third base­man J.D. Davis into the out­field en route to be­com­ing a Sim­mons dou­ble. Ac­cord­ing to Stat­cast, bat­ted balls like Sim­mons’ dou­ble go for a hit only 4 per­cent of the time.

Stephen Dunn / Getty Im­ages

Jake Maris­nick, right, is greeted by Alex Breg­man af­ter hit­ting a solo home run in the fourth in­ning.

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