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First-place Angels lose to Astros 4-1

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HOUSTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels followed four straight wins against one of the best teams in the American League by getting swept by one of the worst.

Chris Carter homered twice and drove in three runs, Collin McHugh pitched into the eighth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Angels 4-1 on Wednesday night.

The first-place Angels dropped both games in the series after sweeping the A’s in a four-game set before arriving in Houston.

“Luckily, the A’s lost a couple as well, so it doesn’t hurt us too bad, but it would have been nice to get a couple of wins here and extend the lead a little bit,” Angels starter Jered Weaver said. “Just have to keep trucking on and get another winning streak going.”

Los Angeles has the best record in the majors at 83-55 and is 4 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the AL West.

“We need to move on,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need to catch our breath a little bit. Our team’s been grinding it out, done a lot of terrific things in the past two months, so we have to catch our breath and … get some of these games on our terms.”

It was the second straight win for the Astros since manager Bo Porter was fired on Monday and replaced by interim manager Tom Lawless.

Carter has 35 home runs, and his seven multihomer games this season are a franchise record. It’s the most homers by an Astros player since Lance Berkman hit 45 in 2006.

The designated hitter, who also singled, leads the majors with 22 homers and 52 RBIs since July 1.

Carter put Houston on top 1-0 with his homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the second inning. His two-run, opposite-field shot made it 4-1 in the eighth.

McHugh (8-9) yielded four hits and a run with eight strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings for his fourth straight win, extending a career high. Chad Qualls pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save.

Weaver (15-8) allowed five hits and two runs in six-plus innings for just his second loss since June 16.

“It would’ve been nice to finish that seventh inning, but I was losing a little bit of command on the fastball,” Weaver said.

Dexter Fowler walked with one out in the fourth and stole second with two outs. Jason Castro’s single scored Fowler to put Houston up 2-1.

The Angels tied it at 1 in the third when Efren Navarro scored on an error by shortstop Jonathan Villar that allowed Mike Trout to reach. The play pushed Trout’s RBI total to a career-high 98.

McHugh retired the next 10 batters, with the next hit by Los Angeles coming on a single by Josh Hamilton with two outs in the sixth. Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the inning.

That was the first of six in a row set down by McHugh before he was replaced by Jose Veras.

Jose Altuve, who had four hits in each of his previous two games, doubled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He has a major league-leading 194 hits this season.

WHAT A MONTH

Los Angeles right-hander Matt Shoemaker was selected American League pitcher and rookie of the month for August. He’s the ninth player to win both honors in the same month and the first Angels player to do it since Trout received both awards in July 2012.

Shoemaker is 14-4 with a 3.14 ERA this season and was 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA last month. He has pitched 23 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings, second in franchise history for a rookie behind Bob Lee’s 27 straight in 1964.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Scioscia said reliever Joe Thatcher (sprained left ankle) has been throwing off a mound and could pitch a simulated game in the next few days.

UP NEXT

The Angels open a four-game series at Minnesota, with Hector Santiago opposing Kyle Gibson. … The Astros are off Thursday before starting a three-game series in Oakland.