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MLB: Angels' Ohtani tagged with loss in return to mound

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game on Sept. 2, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (Kyodo) -- Shohei Ohtani pitched two scoreless innings on Sunday before giving up a two-run home run in his first major league start since June 6, suffering his second loss of the season as the Los Angeles Angels fell 4-2 against the Houston Astros.

Ohtani (4-2), who had been sidelined from pitching duties with a right elbow injury for nearly three months, yielded a leadoff single and walk in the first at Minute Maid Park but fanned Astros rookie Tyler White to end the inning.

The 24-year-old Japanese threw a 1-2-3 second but gave up a second walk in the third. On a 2-1 count, his next batter George Springer connected on Ohtani's slider for a two-run shot to left field.

After getting Jose Altuve to ground out, Ohtani was replaced by righty Jim Johnson. He faced 11 batters and tossed 30 strikes in the 49-pitch outing.

"Within the decided number of pitches, I allowed two runs, and because I had to leave in the third inning, I wasn't able to do much work," Ohtani said. "As it was, I think there were some good pitches."

With the Angels trailing 3-2 in the seventh, right-hander Junichi Tazawa debuted for Los Angeles after being called up from the minors Saturday.

The Japanese reliever gave up a solo shot to Alex Bregman to put the Angels further in the hole. He yielded a double and issued a walk but stranded the runners on a line out.

Gerrit Cole (13-5) fanned nine and gave up two runs over 5-2/3 innings, and Houston reliever Roberto Osuna retired three straight in the ninth as the Astros evened the four-game series.

Even though Ohtani was likely to have been limited to around 50 pitches, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he pulled the starter because he was experiencing hip tension. He was also concerned about a ball hitting the pitcher's right ring finger while attempting to stop a grounder in the second.

Ohtani had most recently faced the defending World Series champions on April 24, when he allowed four runs in 5-1/3 innings.

While unable to garner a fifth win, Ohtani became the only player besides Babe Ruth to start 10 games and hit at least 10 home runs, as well as pitch at least 50 innings and hit 15 homers in a season.

The three-month layoff, however, has all but dashed the rookie's hopes of joining Ruth as the only major leaguers to earn 10 wins and hit 10 home runs in the same season. He recorded a 3.10 ERA in nine appearances for the Angels before the injury.

Ohtani landed on the disabled list on June 8 with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. The two-way star, who throws right and bats left, had been used exclusively as a hitter since being activated off the DL on July 3.

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