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Shohei Ohtani moves into tie for MLB home run lead during Angels’ loss

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Shohei Ohtani hit his 23rd home run of the season Sunday and is now tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead, but the Los Angeles Angels still lost 5-3 to the Detroit Tigers in 10 innings.

Ohtani tied the game at 3-3 in the fifth with a two-run homer off second-year pro Casey Mize, setting a career high for homers in a season in the series finale. It was the second time this season he has homered in three straight games.

But neither team scored in the next four innings and the game went to the 10th.

Detroit center fielder Daz Cameron had a two-run single in the top of the 10th and Michael Fulmer pitched a scoreless bottom half for his sixth save, helping the visitors avoid a four-game sweep at Anaheim Stadium.

Ohtani, who will be pitching on five days’ rest on Wednesday, hit 22 homers twice in the past, in his rookie season in the majors in 2018 and his fourth season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan in 2016.

He is well ahead of pace to breaking a single-season home run record for Japanese major leaguers, which former New York Yankees player Hideki Matsui set in 2004, with 31 homers. In 2018, Ohtani hit his 22nd homer in his 101st game, compared to his 66th this year.

“It’s still the first half of the season and I want to be able to hit more (homers),” said Ohtani, who will become the first Japanese-born player to compete in the All-Star Home Run Derby next month.

“My hitting will improve if I can cut down on strikeouts,” he said.

Ohtani struck out three times and drew a walk in his other plate appearances.

At Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Kenta Maeda, who has recovered from a groin strain, helped the Minnesota Twins win their fourth straight game, pitching 5⅓ innings in the team’s 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

In his second start since he was activated from the 10-day injured list, Maeda (3-2) allowed two runs and five hits, including two homers, with four strikeouts and one walk in an 84-pitch outing. He earned his first win since May 3.

“We won and that’s what matters most. I think I did alright. I’m gradually regaining a feel for my pitches since I’ve come back from the injury list. I’m sure it’ll get better from here on,” Maeda said.

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