HOUSTON -- Calling a pitch a ball or a strike can be the most simplistic play in baseball.
The Angels' problem in Thursday night's loss to the Houston Astros was easy to explain. Too many balls. Not enough strikes.
Angels pitchers walked eight Astros, and three of those runners scored in an 8-5 loss at Minute Maid Park.
"I don't know if we gave it away," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We couldn't hold that [one-run] deficit. We were in the game the whole way."
The Astros led, 4-3, entering the bottom of the eighth. But Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian, who threw a perfect inning Tuesday night in his Major League debut, couldn't find the plate.
Bedrosian, 22, walked four of the five batters he faced in the eighth, and by the time the inning ended, the Angels trailed, 8-3.
"They showed some patience," Scioscia said of the Astros. "A couple of pitches were close and we didn't get the calls. There's no doubt there were some pitches that were close. We'll have to check them."
Bedrosian lasted only two-thirds of an inning, and one of those outs resulted from catcher Chris Iannetta throwing out a pinch-runner at second base. Bedrosian threw 31 pitches, and 17 of those were balls.
"The big thing was the walks," Bedrosian said. "You've got to stay ahead of guys, get strikes even if [the umpire] doesn't call it, and put them away. I can't use that as a crutch. I've got to make an adjustment. Fastballs I was missing up. Maybe rushing a little bit.
"It's pretty frustrating, but something I have to bounce back from. Once it's done, it's done. You've got to turn the page, and it's a new day tomorrow."
Iannetta believed some of the balls should have been called strikes.
"They were close, could have gone either way," he said. "We kept missing by a little margin. He kept his cool. We didn't play well enough to win. We gave up a lot of runs. They found a lot of holes."
It was not only the Angels walking too many hitters, it was whom they were walking.
Chris Carter and Robbie Grossman, Houston's No. 6 and 7 hitters, each entered the game with averages below .200. Carter walked in all four of his plate appearances, and Grossman walked once to go with two other singles. The only out by the pair was when Grossman sacrificed in the second inning.
"That's the key," Iannetta said. "You need pitching and defense, and we didn't do that today."
Scioscia understood that his pitchers are going to give up some walks. Thursday night, they gave up way too many.
"We've got some power arms out there [in the bullpen], and there's going to be some walks occasionally," he said. "Sometimes that goes with the territory. Things got away from us tonight. We walked eight batters? That's a lot of runners to put on base."
The Angels scored two runs in the top of the ninth and, with better pitching in the last of the eighth, could have won the game.
They hung around long enough to get back to 8-5 with runners on first and third, one out, and Mike Trout and Albert Pujols coming to the plate. But Trout struck out and Pujols popped up to end it.
"It kind of felt like two games," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "It felt like the first five innings was one game, and the next four was another game."
Trout said he felt completely recovered from the stiffness in his upper back, missing three of the last four games. He contributed a double, triple and RBI.
"No pain, nothing," said Trout, who DHed Thursday night. "I should be back in center [Friday]. It never tightened up on me. I stretched real well between at-bats."
The Astros used two infield singles and a wild pitch to help them score a run off Angels starter Tyler Skaggs in the first inning to tie the game.
Then they pieced together five singles -- including a squeeze bunt -- and a walk to score three more runs off Skaggs (4-4) in the fourth inning.
"Of course, it's frustrating," Skaggs said. "They put the ball in play, and anything can happen when you put the ball in play. When we come home, we'll be rejuvenated. There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed."
The Angels finished their 10-game road trip to Seattle, Oakland and Houston with a 3-7 mark.
"There were some things on this trip that we liked what we saw," Scioscia said. "There were some things we didn't get done. We definitely didn't swing the bats to our capabilities. We didn't pitch the way we can. We're going through a bit of a lull. This team's still going to get better as we move along."
Third baseman David Freese showed some life offensively, reaching base three times in four tries, with two singles and a walk.
"I think David is starting to find his confidence," Scioscia said. "Before he got hurt, he was really swinging the bat well."
The Angels open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night, and then Oakland comes to Anaheim for three more.
"It's been a long road trip," concluded Trout. "It will definitely be good to get home."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.