Nolasco deals, but Angels can't solve Fiers

Nolasco deals, but Angels can't solve Fiers

HOUSTON -- Astros starting pitcher Mike Fiers coasted through 7 1/3 innings of one-run baseball and returned Houston to winning form with a 3-1 win to even the series against the Angels on Saturday in Minute Maid Park.

Fiers, in a season-long outing, cruised to a line of eight strikeouts, two hits, two walks and the one run -- which was unearned -- before returning to the dugout having completed his most efficient start of the season in 95 pitches. Fiers has won three three consecutive starts for the first time since winning four in a row in August 2014.

"It's a different game when you have your control and throwing everything you want where you want," Fiers said. "Throughout the game, there were a couple of at-bats where I fell behind some hitters and walked a couple guys, but for the most part, I had everything going."

Fiers K's eight in two-hit start

"This is the best stuff I think he's brought into a game this season," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was a combination of everything, but it seemed to be everything was working off his changeup. He could throw it at any count. He threw some nasty ones that looked like split-fingers. He could change pace with it and control at-bats and bat speed."

With little offense to show between the Astros (44-19) and the Angels, Brian McCann's ninth home run this season -- a solo shot in the second inning off Angels starter Ricky Nolasco -- gave the Astros a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish to the Angels, who are once again below .500 at 32-33. It was the Astros' 18th consecutive game with a homer and Nolasco's 19th long ball surrendered this season, the most in the American League.

"He pitched a good game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Nolasco, who allowed two runs in seven innings. "Obviously his back is against the wall the whole way. He got some double-play balls to help him out of some jams, but he pitched a really strong seven innings and gave us a chance to win."

Nolasco's two-run outing

Houston tacked on a pair with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly via Yuli Gurriel -- whose single in the seventh extended his hitting streak to 10 games -- and a Carlos Correa RBI single in the eighth.

Correa's RBI single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
McCann goes deep: With one out in the second inning, McCann ripped a solo home run to right field to put the Astros up by one. McCann's bomb traveled 386 feet and left his bat with an exit velocity of 100 mph, according to Statcast™.

"It was a good pitch, but you've just got to barrel it in this park," Nolasco said. "He barreled the ball up, basically. It wasn't a great swing, but at the end of the day, he's strong enough to get it out of here by just barreling up the ball, and that's what he did."

Devenski inherits danger: Chris Devenski relieved Fiers in the eighth inning with Angels on first and second. Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa, the duo on base, used a double steal before Revere scored on a groundout by Andrelton Simmons. Devenski, with one out remaining and a runner on third in a 2-1 ballgame, needed five pitches to strike out Kole Calhoun, ending the inning and keeping the Astros in front.

Devenski strikes out Calhoun

"It's important for not only the rotation but for the bullpen," Hinch said. "Having to use Devenski and Giles today, obviously, is how we win."

"He throws hard and has a good changeup," Calhoun said of Devenski. "He's got probably a 10-12 miles an hour difference. It's a good pitch, has a good bottom to it. He threw me a couple good ones."

QUOTABLE
"I felt really good. I had a really good bullpen before the game and I just knew I was throwing my good stuff. When I feel like that, I feel like I'm one of the best pitchers in the league when I have my stuff." -- Fiers

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
McCann's solo home run in the second was his ninth career homer against Nolasco. No other active pitcher/batter matchup has yielded more home runs. Evan Longoria vs. Chris Tillman was tied with McCann-Nolasco prior to Saturday.

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-6, 4.56 ERA) will start Sunday's series finale for the Angels at 11:10 a.m. PT at Minute Maid Park. Chavez has faced the Astros twice this season, going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA.

Astros: Rookie right-hander David Paulino will start to close the Astros' three-game series against the Angels at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday afternoon in Minute Maid Park. Paulino will make his third start of the season Sunday and is 0-1 in two starts this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

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