Rookie McCullers staying cool under pressure

21-year-old fans six over six strong innings Wednesday vs. Angels

Rookie McCullers staying cool under pressure

ANAHEIM -- Not much fazes young right-hander Lance McCullers, who's proven he belongs in the big leagues eight starts into his promising Major League career. So when the Angels had a steady diet of runners on base Wednesday, it was business as usual for the 21-year-old.

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McCullers gave up one run and four hits and struck out six batters in six innings for his fourth quality start for the Astros, who wound up losing, 2-1, in 13 innings at Angel Stadium. He turned the game over to the bullpen, which gave up one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"It's tough when a game goes that deep and you wish you could have stayed out there and gone longer for your guys," McCullers said. "The whole series we played two really close games. We ended up losing one, and another one we blew them out. There's no moral victories in this series, but I feel like we come away from this series playing good baseball."

McCullers walked Albert Pujols to start the fourth, and it came back to bite him. He wound up scoring on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Chris Iannetta, but that was the only inning in which the Angels advanced a runner past second base against him.

"Guys on base don't mean anything," McCullers said. "It's the ones that cross the plate. Other than having to throw some extra pitches here and there, I'm fine with it."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said McCullers had all of his pitches working, but didn't throw as many changeups as he normally does. He pitched from behind the count more than he would have probably liked, but that didn't seem to bother him much either.

"That's the beauty about pitching," McCullers said. "One pitch gets one out. It doesn't matter if you're 2-0, 3-0, 3-1 or you're 0-2, you still have to make that one pitch to get a guy out, and as long as you keep that mindset and realize you're one pitch away, guys on base don't bother me. Being behind in the count doesn't bother me. I have confidence in myself, no matter what."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.