Astros' hopes of ending streak crushed by late HRs

Bullpen gives up three homers, eight runs in seventh; Carter hits slam

Astros' hopes of ending streak crushed by late HRs

ANAHEIM -- Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Saturday night's marathon seventh inning put together by the Angels is that the Astros found a way to get Mike Trout out ... twice. It was the rest of the lineup that proved to be problematic.

The seventh inning was nothing short of a nightmare for the Astros, who began the frame with a three-run lead and 50 minutes later had watched the Angels send 14 hitters to the plate and score a season-high eight runs.

David Freese and Albert Pujols both hit two-run homers off reliever Anthony Bass to give the Angels the lead, and C.J. Cron capped the outburst with a three-run blast off Josh Zeid to send the Astros to their sixth consecutive loss, 11-5, at Angel Stadium.

"That was a tough inning right there," Bass said. "You look on video and balls were just coming back over the middle of the plate for them. They were hitting everything. If I make some pitches on the corners, it's a different ballgame. It was a tough one."

The Astros built a 5-1 lead through three innings on the strength of Chris Carter's second grand slam of the season, and they got six good innings from starter Scott Feldman before the bullpen imploded. Bass (1-1), Tony Sipp and Zeid combined to throw 74 pitches in the seventh.

"When you talk about using three guys and throwing 70 some odd pitches in one inning, that's a tough inning for anybody," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We just could not avoid the long ball, obviously. That really hurt and it just seemed like every mistake we made they took advantage of it and couldn't miss it."

The Angels had six hits in the seventh, including the three homers, and had four batters reach on walks (one intentional). Even when Zeid struck out Kole Calhoun with two outs, he reached on a wild pitch.

"Once that inning got rolling, our guys didn't want it to end," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They just kept passing that baton and doing whatever they had to do and got some key hits."

The Astros made it a point to upgrade their bullpen in the offseason by signing veterans Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Chad Qualls and Jerome Williams while acquiring Bass. Crain and Albers are hurt, Williams has been let go and Qualls isn't getting many opportunities as the closer.

Houston's bullpen has an 11.69 ERA in 22 1/3 innings in the team's last eight games (1-7).

"It's tough, but at the same time nobody is going to feel sorry for you," Porter said. "We're all pros here and we're going to have to find a way to rectify it, and it's going to be up to the guys that we have here to get it rectified."

Freese's pinch-hit homer off Bass cut the Astros' lead to 5-4, and Bass got Trout to fly out with a runner at first for the second out. Pujols crushed the next pitch and sent it over the left-field wall for his 511th career homer, 45 of which have come against the Astros in the regular season.

That gave the Angels a 6-5 lead, but they were only getting started.

"They have a good team and we just weren't making the right pitches," Zeid said. "We've got to do better and be more aggressive. I know I've got to be more aggressive. We'll come back at it tomorrow and try to do better."

Feldman put himself in line for a win by throwing six innings and holding the Angels to two runs and six hits for his third consecutive quality start.

"That's a tough one," Feldman said. "Hopefully, we don't have too many more like that, but it happened. It's baseball. I've probably been a part of a few innings like that myself. It's one of those things I've got to forget about it and come back tomorrow and try to win the game."

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