McHugh leads way as Astros shut out Angels

McHugh leads way as Astros shut out Angels

ANAHEIM -- Jose Altuve regained the Major League lead in hits and Collin McHugh ended his season with 7 2/3 shutout innings as the Astros blanked the Angels, 3-0, on Saturday night to even the three-game series at Angel Stadium.

The Angels couldn't solve McHugh, who retired the first 14 batters he faced before Andrelton Simmons singled up the middle with two outs in the fifth. The Halos had their four-game win streak snapped and were shut out for the first time since Sept. 16 against Toronto.

"We did put up some good at-bats," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was nice to see. It was a difficult game to play. We've certainly been a little bit different mentally [since being eliminated from postseason contention], but we were able to put up some good at-bats, get a few runs."

Altuve is a lock to win his second American League batting title in three years with a .338 average, but he entered Saturday's game trailing Boston's Mookie Betts by one hit for the most in the Majors. He singled in the first inning and again in the seventh to increase his season total to 215. Altuve also stole two bases to reach 30 on the season.

Jake Marisnick drove in the first run of the game and led the Astros with three hits. Evan Gattis added a pair of run-scoring singles and Teoscar Hernandez also had two hits for Houston, which improved to 13-5 against the Angels this season.

Marisnick's RBI single

McHugh limited the Angels to three hits, while striking out five against one walk. He hit Mike Trout with a pitch in the sixth inning. The Angels did not have another base runner until C.J. Cron doubled to right with one out in the ninth.

"What a great performance when it's kind of hard to pitch on a night like tonight," Hinch said. "Both teams are out of it, a little bit of speed-up rules, guys are swinging early. He made his pitches and got a lot of outs early and was able to last pretty deep into the night and really save a bullpen that's pitched a lot. Tonight was excellent, and it caps a really sensational September for him."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
McHugh finishes strong: The Astros won for the eighth time in the last nine games started by McHugh, who went 6-0 in his final eight starts to finish with 13 wins and 32 over the past two seasons. McHugh is 13-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 regular-season starts in September/October since the Astros claimed him off waivers in 2014.

"I always pride myself on being a good finisher of seasons and making sure that I'm stronger down the stretch than at any point in time during the season," McHugh said. "I got away with some pitches over the last month, for sure, but it seems like, whatever reason, they're finding mitts and our guys have been scoring some runs."

McHugh gets out of a jam

Altuve toast of the town: After the game, the Astros held a champagne toast for Altuve winning his second batting title in three years. He went 2-for-4 and is hitting .338 entering the final day of the season.

"The way that these guys played this year, they went outside to the field and played hard, and that kind of encouraged me and pushed me to keep playing hard every day," Altuve said. "It's really fun to play on a team like this. We're out of the playoffs, but it was a great season, a winning season. We know what we've got here and we're going to come back next year, and I know we're going to make it." More >

Altive's 215th hit

Gattis drives in a pair: Gattis continued his second-half surge, going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs to give him 72 for the season. He singled to center in the third to drive in Yulieski Gurriel and -- after Altuve stole his 30th base of the season in the seventh -- Gattis scored him with an RBI single. In 59 games since July 23, Gattis is hitting .289 with 19 homers and 36 RBIs.

Gattis' second RBI single

Skaggs returns: Tyler Skaggs returned to the Angels after missing three weeks with a forearm strain. The left-hander recorded five outs on 45 pitches and was charged with one run on three hits and two walks. More importantly, he finished his first season back from Tommy John surgery healthy.

"I wasn't going in with any goal, just kind of going out there and trying to feel good," Skaggs said. "Granted, you don't want to go out there and walk people. Overall, my arm felt great, so pretty happy about it." More >

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Angels are now locked into a top-10 pick in the 2017 Draft.

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Rookie Brady Rodgers will make his first Major League start in Sunday's 2:05 p.m. CT season finale against the Angels. Rodgers was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher after the Year after going 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA for Triple-A Fresno, winning the league's ERA title in the process.

Angels: Jhoulys Chacin starts the season finale on Sunday in place of Jered Weaver, who is unable to go because of tightness in his lower back. Chacin last started on Sept. 24 in Houston, limiting the Astros to two unearned runs over six innings. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. PT.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.