HOUSTON — Houston Astros manager Bo Porter raved about the development of Jordan Lyles when the 22-year-old pitcher reeled off seven straight starts in which he allowed two runs or less.
The next sign of his maturity will be how he handles things now that he has followed that success with two rough starts.
Lyles was done in by a four-run fourth inning, and Los Angeles got a 7-2 win over the Astros on Saturday. He allowed five hits, four runs and walked two in four innings for his first loss against the Angels in three starts.
This defeat came after he yielded 10 hits and eight runs in five innings in a loss to Chicago in his previous start.
"He has to continue to work through this," Porter said. "Just like he took a huge step forward where he ran off all those good starts, these are some starts he can learn from, as well.
"I have all the confidence in the world in him. I think he's going to continue to grow and get past this bump in the road."
Lyles was straight to the point when asked about his work on Saturday.
"I just wasn't good today," he said. "That's it."
Joe Blanton pitched seven sharp innings, and Howie Kendrick and Chris Iannetta both homered to lead the Angels to the victory.
Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar drove in two runs apiece in a big fourth inning to help Los Angeles to its fifth straight win.
Blanton (2-10) tied season lows with three hits and two runs, pitching six scoreless innings before a two-run home run by Brett Wallace in the seventh.
Wallace was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City after getting just one hit in seven games to start the season. He has been much better since rejoining the Astros this week and has hits in each of the four games since his return with five RBIs.
"Brett has a lot more confidence, and he is attacking the ball," Porter said. "Even the strikeouts, there is not a lot of hesitation with the swings. That home run the opposite way is a good example of what I am talking about with sitting on the ball and attacking."
Kendrick's solo homer came in the fifth, Iannetta tacked on two with a home run in the eighth, and Josh Hamilton doubled and likely robbed Houston of two home runs with big defensive plays.
Blanton was perfect through 3 1-3 innings before a double by Jose Altuve. Altuve advanced to third on a wild pitch before a two-out walk to Chris Carter. Blanton escaped the jam when Hamilton leaped to grab a fly ball hit by J.D. Martinez at the wall in right field.
It was the second time Martinez hit the ball hard and came away empty. Mike Trout caught another drive from him on the warning track in left-center in the second inning.
Hamilton's second nifty defensive play came when he jumped and reached over the short wall in right field to catch a ball hit by Matt Dominguez in the seventh inning. Hamilton tumbled to the ground after the catch while Dominguez stood motionless and stared at him in disbelief.
Mark Trumbo singled to get things going in the fourth inning. Lyles then started to struggle with control, plunking Howie Kendrick before walking Hamilton to load the bases. Callaspo's single scored Trumbo and Kendrick to make it 2-0.
Things continued to go downhill for Lyles when he hit Peter Bourjos with a pitch. Aybar's two-run single pushed the lead to 4-0, but he was out trying to stretch it into a double. Lyles finally escaped the inning when Trout lined out to Brandon Barnes in center field.
"I think it is one of those things where you try to make the perfect pitch, and you are falling behind and you try to make a better pitch and a better pitch and a better pitch. He could not get his fastball command back," Porter said of Lyles in the fourth.Comment on this story
Kendrick hit his ninth homer of the season to the seats in right field off Josh Fields with two outs in the fifth to make it 5-0.
Carter walked with no outs in the seventh before Wallace hit his first homer of the season with one out to the Crawford Boxes in left field to make it 5-2.
Bourjos bruised his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch, and he left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Trout took over in center field for Bourjos, and J.B. Shuck entered the game in left field.
NOTES: Houston reliever Travis Blackley shoved Shuck when he tagged him in the back on a rundown eighth inning. He regretted the move soon afterward. "I never try to be malicious toward anyone," he said. "It was one of those things where the heat of the moment kind of got me. I don't mean anything by it."... The series wraps up on Sunday when Los Angeles left-hander C.J. Wilson opposes Lucas Harrell. ... Someone from Houston's dugout yelled "got it," causing Los Angeles catcher Hank Conger to let a foul ball he could have caught drop during Friday night's game. Porter wouldn't say who did it, but was unhappy with the incident and called Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia to apologize on Saturday morning. "I apologized to him on behalf of our ball club," Porter said. "It's not something that I condone, and I take full responsibility. It won't happen again." Scioscia wasn't that concerned about it. "He called and I appreciated it but it's no big deal," he said.