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There was no dazzling dominance, no big-time headlines in Shohei Ohtani's fourth major league start Tuesday night.
Instead, the Angels' two-way star courted the problems often but also found a way to break through, his dominance putting his team in a position to win, but his inefficiency left him unable to finish the job .
Ohtani got into trouble at every inning against the Houston Astros and gave a one-run lead to his bullpen in the sixth inning. That lead evaporated in a two-run home run by Brian McCann, but the Angels came together to forge an 8-7 victory and save the Astros to the top of the Western Division.
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Ohtani struck out seven Astros in 5 1/3 innings, including twice the reigning MVP Jose Altuve. He achieved a personal record in pitches (98) and in his final, he squandered a 98 mph fastball over Alex Bregman.
Ohtani allowed himself a slight exultation after that, knowing that his night was over and that he would give the bullpen a 4-3 advantage.
But reliever José Álvarez gave up a two-run homer with Brian McCann, pummeling any shot that Ohtani had for his third win of the year.
It was an exhausting route for that moment.
Ohtani walked with five Astros, one more than the combined total of his first three starts, and courted problems from the moment that initial hitter George Springer singled in the first inning.
But Ohtani ended that inning with a double play of throwing a strikeout, freezing Carlos Correa in a beautiful slider when catcher Martin Maldonado caught Springer trying to steal second base.
Ohtani put the starting batter in five of his six innings, but induced a double play to escape a jam and made his way out of the others.
The Astros, however, generally land a few punches, and Tuesday was no different.
Ohtani's first goal to Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth preceded a two-run homer by Derek Fisher, cutting the Angels' lead to 4-3. When Springer followed up with another single, Ohtani did not seem to take long in the game.
But he came back to hit Altuve, hit 101 mph twice in the inning and for the third time in his four starts he reached the sixth inning.
However, he did not want to get out of there, and one night of court problems forced him to leave the game a couple of outs before what the Angels needed.
Although the classification does not make any sense at this time of year, the Astros at this time last season were four games up in the AL West, and never saw second place after April 12 at your way to a championship.
This year will be different.
Andrelton Simmons answered McCann's homer with a great three-run shot, the second of the game, and five relievers absorbed the 13 outs Ohtani failed to record.