HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel slugged a three-run home run in the seventh inning, lifting Justin Verlander into the win column for the fourth time in four starts and pushing the Houston Astros to a 3-0 victory over the reeling Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Gurriel cranked his 18th home run of the season out to left-center field, taking advantage of the first break the Astros (94-59) generated on the evening.
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards handcuffed Houston for six innings, but when he ceded the mound to right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit, the Astros took advantage of the opportunity and capitalized with haste.
Petit (5-2) surrendered a leadoff single to Jose Altuve before issuing a one-out walk to Alex Bregman. Gurriel followed by lining a 3-1 pitch above the visiting bullpen for the decisive blow.
Verlander (14-8) was magnificent once again, limiting the Angels (76-77) to one hit and two walks over seven scoreless innings. Verlander improved to 4-0 with an 0.64 ERA with Houston.
Richards pitched brilliantly in his previous matchup against Verlander and the Astros, surrendering just one run on four hits and a walk over five innings. But with Verlander delivering a vintage performance, Richards was the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 contest.
He was even better this time around, allowing just one hit — a one-out double by Josh Reddick in the first inning. Richards retired the next 10 batters he faced and, after walking Marwin Gonzalez with two outs in the fourth, set down in order his final seven batters of the game.
With the Angels nursing the injury-ravaged Richards along, his night was capped at six innings and 85 pitches.
NOTES: Astros RHP Lance McCullers will make his first start since Sept. 6 and just his second since July 30 on Sunday in the series finale against the Angels. McCullers has been slowed by back discomfort and arm fatigue over the past two-plus months, and will be monitored closely, inning by inning, during his return to the rotation. … Angels 3B Yunel Escobar will conclude the batting practice portion of his rehab in Southern California this weekend before traveling to Arizona to face live pitching on Sunday or Monday. Escobar landed on the 10-day disabled list on Aug. 8 with a Grade 1 right oblique strain. … Astros RHP Brad Peacock will have his next start pushed back for extra rest in advance of his pending postseason assignment. Peacock has made a career-high 33 appearances this season, including 20 starts.