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MLB: Ohtani hits 2-run homer but Angels fall 8-3 to Astros

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani, right, watches his two-run home run as Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado watches during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

ANAHEIM, California (Kyodo) -- Shohei Ohtani went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer Saturday in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-3 defeat against the Houston Astros.

    With Los Angeles trailing 4-0 at Angel Stadium, Ohtani followed Mike Trout into the box after the center fielder singled to lead off the fourth inning.

    The 24-year-old Japanese rookie, batting cleanup as the Angels' designated hitter, sent a first-pitch changeup from Justin Verlander (13-8) past the center field wall, snapping the right-hander's 26 consecutive innings scoreless streak at the Angels' ballpark and cutting the deficit in half. It was Ohtani's 14th home run.

    Trout led off the sixth with his second single of the game, but this time Ohtani was struck out by Verlander. After Albert Pujols flied out, Andrelton Simmons tripled in Trout to make it 4-3.

    In the eighth, Marwin Gonzalez started a four-run rally with a solo homer against lefty Williams Jerez, the Angels' fifth of seven relievers of the night, and the visitors sealed the win.

    Ohtani doubled in the second and was hit by a pitch by right-hander Roberto Osuna in the eighth, but was left stranded both times. Los Angeles starter Jaime Barria (8-8) took the loss for giving up four runs on five hits and two walks.

    The loss follows the Angels' 9-3 defeat Friday, when Ohtani struck out in his only plate appearance as a pinch hitter. The American League West rivals conclude the three-game series on Sunday.

    Ohtani tossed a 21-pitch bullpen session before the game on Saturday, and is scheduled to throw 40-50 pitches in his second simulated game on Monday as he continues to progress through rehabilitation.

    The right-hander went 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts for the Angels before being sidelined with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He has been used exclusively as a hitter since he came off the DL on July 3.

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