George Springer and Alex Bregman homered, and the Houston Astros earned a split of their four-game series with the visiting Los Angeles Angels with a 4-2 win on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over Oakland in the American League West, as the Athletics defeated the third-place Seattle Mariners 8-2 earlier on Sunday.
Springer followed a leadoff walk from Tony Kemp in the third inning with a two-run homer, his 20th, off Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani (4-2).
Ohtani, starting on the mound for the first time since June 6, departed one batter later after reaching his pitch count. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings. Ohtani threw 49 pitches, 30 of them strikes.
Ohtani did experience a steep decline in fastball velocity during his outing, touching 99.3 mph with his four-seamer in the first inning but only hitting 88.9 mph against Kemp in the third. Ohtani missed nearly three months of pitching action after sustaining a right elbow sprain on June 4.
Leading 2-1, the Astros squandered an opportunity build a sizable lead after scoring just once in the fifth despite loading the bases with no outs. Carlos Correa pushed home Springer with a bases-loaded walk against right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, but right-hander Noe Ramirez entered and escaped the threat, keeping the deficit at 3-1 while working two scoreless innings.
Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole (13-5) labored with his control yet pitched into the sixth inning. He surrendered two runs on six hits and three walks while recording nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings, amassing 113 pitches on his ledger.
Cole allowed only a fielder’s choice RBI to Jefry Marte in the fourth inning before being charged with a second run in the sixth when reliever Joe Smith plunked David Fletcher with a pitch with the bases loaded, driving home Taylor Ward.
Bregman smacked his 27th home run in the seventh inning off Angels right-hander Junichi Tazawa.
Springer finished 3-for-5, and Bregman went 2-for-4.
Roberto Osuna notched his 12th save, his third with Houston, by pitching a perfect ninth inning.
—Field Level Media