Verlander, Astros beat Angels 5-2; Pujols HR for 2,994th hit

Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros did enough to deny the Los Angeles Angels a three-game sweep.

Verlander pitched seven sharp innings, Altuve hit his first home run of the season and the Astros won 5-2 Wednesday, ending the Angels’ road winning streak at a team record-tying 11 in a row.

“We are tough to sweep because of our pitching matchups and our rotation,” Verlander said. “The old adage, `You’re only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher’ — I think we like our chances every day.”

“It was a tough-fought series. You can’t expect to win every series, especially against a team like that because they’re very talented, he said.

With two outs in the fourth, Tropeano walked Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick and hit Yuli Gurriel to load the bases. Bregman cleared them for a 3-0 lead.

“When you take two of three from a division opponent, that’s still a morale boost,” Tropeano said. “Obviously, we want to sweep. We all want to win every game.”

Altuve’s sixth-inning homer came on a 79 mph hanging slider. The AL MVP hit 24 homers in each of the past two seasons.

After Altuve’s homer, he gleefully skipped off the field into a cold dugout full of players, coaches and staff who were intent on completely ignoring him. He pretended to high-five teammates in the air, laughing and put his helmet down before his teammates finally cracked and celebrated with him.

“It was win or go home,” Westbrook said. “Regardless of what is going on in the game, you have to give yourself a chance to win, and I thought our guys did a good job of that tonight. They did an amazing job of sticking together.”

Westbrook got sidetracked during Monday’s Game 4 by a one-on-one matchup with Ricky Rubio. He was in foul trouble for much of Oklahoma City’s loss and was later fined $10,000 and assessed a technical for an altercation late in that game.

With Oklahoma City trailing 3-1 in the series, he focused up in Game 5 and helped keep the season alive. He made 5 of 16 shots in the first half, then 12 of 23 in the second.

Westbrook also had 15 rebounds and seven assists. Paul George added 34 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who forced a Game 6 in Salt Lake City on Friday.

“We stopped playing defense,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We stopped getting back. Our offense got stagnant. They made adjustments and we didn’t make the right adjustments back. We will watch the film and figure out what went wrong, but from my analysis right after the game, we just stopped getting back in transition and they just fed off of that.”

Jae Crowder scored a career playoff-high 27 points, Mitchell had 23 and Joe Ingles added 16 for the Jazz, who still have a 3-2 lead in the series.

They realize it probably should already be over.jets_134

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