Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Photo by Mike Stobe/UPI | License Photo
HOUSTON -- While there were hits and runs evenly distributed throughout their lineup on Sunday, the Houston Astros had second baseman Jose Altuve to thank for serving as their linchpin. Again. It's always Altuve.
Altuve bashed two home runs and the Astros bludgeoned the Los Angeles Angels 13-3 at Minute Maid Park to cap a series sweep.
The Astros (54-44) improved to a season-best 10 games over .500 by recording their third consecutive three-game sweep of the Angels (43-55), who entered the series riding a six-game winning streak. Houston stretched its winning streak over Los Angeles to 11 games by clubbing a season-high five homers, with Altuve blasting his in consecutive at-bats.
Altuve finished 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs. He set a single-season career high with his 16th home run in the first inning, a three-run shot to left-center field off Angels right-hander Tim Lincecum (2-4) that set the tone for the onslaught. Altuve added a solo home run with one out in the second, capping the Astros' second four-run frame.
"Still impressed a little bit about my homers," said Altuve, who recorded his second career multi-homer game. "I've never hit 17 homers. Like I said everything I can do to help my team score runs and to go out there and have fun I'm going to try to do."
Altuve had plenty of help. George Springer recorded two hits, including a two-run single in the second inning, and scored three runs. Carlos Correa matched Altuve by going 3-for-5, lacing a pair of doubles before following an Altuve RBI single with one of his own in the fifth.
Luis Valbuena socked his 13th home run to cap the scoring in the first inning. Preston Tucker started the three-run uprising in the fifth with a two-out solo shot to right field off Jose Alvarez, his fourth on the season. Astros catcher Evan Gattis, who drilled two home runs on Saturday, was the last starter to reach base when he belted his 16th home run leading off the sixth. Gattis' blast came against Angels right-hander JC Ramirez.
"You look down and everybody contributed in some capacity," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Nearly every spot scored a run except for Correa, who got three hits. Overall a really good performance."
Lincecum recorded only four outs. Correa chased him with a double in the second inning, and Lincecum closed his day having allowed eight runs on seven hits (including three homers) and two walks. He did not record a strikeout and nearly half of his 50 pitches (24) were balls.
"It's pretty embarrassing, to be honest with you," Lincecum said. "To give up three home runs and give up seven hits in that span is pretty pathetic. I've got a lot of work to do, so I've got to sweep this under the rug and move forward."
Right-hander Mike Fiers (7-6) suffered the Astros' lone loss to the Angels this season when he allowed seven runs over 3 2/3 innings on May 27. He was much sharper this time around, working seven solid innings while surrendering three runs on nine hits with two strikeouts.
Fiers had twice previously failed to work five innings despite being granted early run support and, leading 8-0, Fiers allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs in the third inning.
But Fiers recorded the biggest out of his start by getting Mike Trout to pop up to Altuve immediately following a Kole Calhoun sacrifice fly. Albert Pujols followed with a fly out to Carlos Gomez in center and Fiers cruised until surrendering a two-run homer in the seventh.
Trout finished the series 1-for-9 with six strikeouts.
"We were swinging well and that off day messed us up a little bit," Trout said. "We've got to figure it out before the next series and then we'll go try to win two games in Kansas City."
NOTES: Angels LHP Tyler Skaggs will make his first start in nearly two years on Tuesday against the Royals in Kansas City. Skaggs, who last pitched for the Angels on July 31, 2014, at Baltimore, went 3-1 with a 1.19 ERA in four rehab starts with Triple-A Salt Lake this month, recording 35 strikeouts against three walks over 22 2/3 innings. Skaggs is returning from Tommy John surgery. ... Astros C Jason Castro missed a second consecutive game with a right hand contusion suffered on a foul tip in the ninth inning on Friday night. Evan Gattis started in place of Castro. Gattis is batting .310 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs in 22 games at catcher but just .175 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 46 games as the designated hitter. ... Angels RHP Nick Tropeano will get a second opinion on his medium- to high-grade ulnar collateral ligament tear on Monday. Tropeano and the club will make a decision on how to proceed afterward.