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Framber Valdez, Houston Astros author ‘special’ day, striking out 20 in win over Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout finished 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts in a three-game series and Los Angeles hitters fanned 20 times, equaling a major league record, as the Houston Astros won 4-2 for a sweep on Sunday.

Rookie Jeremy Pena homered twice, capped by a two-run drive with two outs in the ninth inning off Ryan Tepera (1-2) to win it.

“To do it on a walk-off, it’s unreal,” Pena said. “It’s always fun walking it off, you get the win … and it’s great.”

Trout struck out seven consecutive times in the first two games. In the finale, the three-time AL MVP reached base in his first at-bat on an error by Pena at shortstop before striking out looking in his next two plate appearances.

Trout popped out in his last at-bat to extend his skid to 0-for-14. He is having another strong campaign, batting .272 with 23 homers and 47 RBIs, despite his second long slump of the year — he was a career-worst 0-for-26 before ending that drought on June 6.

Trout was far from the only Angel to struggle at the plate as Houston starter Framber Valdez and three relievers tied the major league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Twelve different Angels batters came to the plate and all of them struck out at least once.

Valdez struck out a career-high 13 in six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks. Relievers Hector Neris and Rafael Montero each struck out two in scoreless innings and Ryan Pressly (2-2) fanned three in the ninth.

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“It’s something that is very emotional and very exciting for me,” Valdez said through a translator after the game. “It’s very special to be a part of that.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker concurred.

“It’s very impressive. He was throwing strikes,” Baker said referring to Valdez, and when asked about the team total of 20, he simply replied, “Boy, that’s a lot.”

The 20 strikeouts is the most in a nine-inning game in Astros franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. There had been several occasions where other teams struck out 20, including performances by Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood.

The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 versus Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers fanned 47 in the series against the Angels.

Pena had four hits. In the ninth, Jose Altuve singled with two outs and Pena followed with his 11th home run. Pena hit a solo home run in the fourth off Jose Suarez.

Luis Rengifo homered in the Angels second. Shohei Ohtani hit an RBI single in the third.

Altuve had an RBI single in the fifth that made it 2-all.

Catching coach Bill Haselman was the Angels’ acting interim manager Sunday while Ray Montgomery, who has been the acting interim manager, and interim manager Phil Nevin served their suspensions for last week’s bench-clearing brawl with the Mariners. Haselman will also manage Tuesday’s game while Montgomery serves the second game of his suspension.

“They just have a lot of good arms out there,” Haselman said. “They have a lot of good pitchers in the bullpen, and they were able to just beat us today.”

Sunday was the sixth match of Nevin’s 10-game suspension. His seventh won’t come till Tuesday, when Noah Syndergaard (5-6, 3.86 ERA) opposes Sandy Alcantara (8-3, 1.96) in the opener of a three-game series vs. the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins are not a traditional opponent of the Angels, so there’s not a ton of history there, but Trout is 0-for-2 this season vs. Miami with two walks and two runs scored. “Mike Trout is a future Hall of Famer. He’s going to come around,” Haselman said.

“It’s too long of a season never to have struggles. Everybody goes through it, even the best in the game. He’s going through it right now, and we’re confident he’ll get out of it.”

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