Tucker makes heroic catch to end wild series, hits one of five Astros HRs

This browser does not support the video element.

ANAHEIM -- A wild 24 hours of baseball at Angel Stadium came down to a matter of inches. A series in which the Astros and Angels combined for 54 runs and 14 home runs came down to a defensive play. A day after the Astros suffered a gut-punch loss to the Angels, they turned the tables Sunday night.

The Astros blasted five home runs in the final three innings, including two by Chas McCormick and a go-ahead two-run homer by Alex Bregman, and still needed a diving catch by right fielder Kyle Tucker to secure the final out and escape with a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Angels.

“That was big,” said McCormick, who was 7-for-11 with three homers in the series. “It felt like the same exact game as [Saturday] night, just the other way around. It was nice to come back and win that game. It was huge to get some momentum into the off-day tomorrow and bring that into Colorado."

This browser does not support the video element.

One day after blowing a six-run lead in the seventh inning with ace pitcher Framber Valdez and coughing up a three-run lead in the ninth inning in a 10-inning loss, the Astros overcame a 7-3 deficit in the seventh inning to stun the Angels.

“They broke our hearts last night, and we broke their hearts today,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Baseball is such a daily game. It’s hard to predict the outcome, but that was a big, big, big win for us.

“Getaway day and we were operating on fumes out of our bullpen and trying to mix and match, and the guys kept fighting and fighting. That was a huge homer that Bregman hit. … That homer that Tuck hit and the play that he made that saved the game. He had a big day, too.”

This browser does not support the video element.

A bases-clearing, three-run double by Taylor Ward in the seventh off Rafael Montero put the Angels ahead, 7-3. That spelled doom for an Astros team that had stranded 11 runners on base in the first six innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the first and third innings. Not so fast.

McCormick, who led off the seventh with a homer, slugged a two-run homer in the eighth off All-Star closer Carlos Estévez to make it 7-5. The Angels were one out from closing out the Astros in the ninth when Bregman hit a first-pitch slider from Jaime Barria 397 feet over the left-field wall to put Houston ahead, 8-7. Tucker followed with a homer -- and a bat flip -- to cap a 4-for-5 night with an important insurance run.

“Just to give the team the lead in the ninth inning after a crazy three games of swings, it was nice to get out in front, and Tucker followed it up with an insurance run and we ended up really needing it,” said Bregman, who also went 4-for-5. “Both teams competed all series long, and you can tell with how many runs were scored in the seventh inning or later, how many lead changes there were. Very happy with today.”

This browser does not support the video element.

Of course, Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani was going to make an impact before the night was over. He homered off reliever Phil Maton in the ninth, sparking a rally and putting some dread into Baker.

“It was happening the same way it did [Saturday] night -- Ohtani gets them back in the game with a homer,” Baker said. “I go, ‘Oh, no, please no.’”

This browser does not support the video element.

The Angels kept going. They had two batters on base in the ninth with two outs when Matt Thaiss hit a sinking line drive to right center. Tucker raced to the gap and made a diving catch to prevent the tying run -- and maybe the winning run -- from crossing home plate. Game over.

“It was a little tough because it got in the lights a little bit back there, but I was just trying to make a play on it and felt I had to dive to at least have a chance on it,” said Tucker, who covered 60 feet to make the catch.

This browser does not support the video element.

With that, the Astros exhaled and smiled. They felt fortunate to escape Anaheim with a series win and buckled their seatbelts a little tighter for what is shaping up to be a wild second half.

“Up and down the lineup, we have guys that know how to win, know how to compete, do the little things right,” Bregman said. “When we do the little things right, we’re damn hard to beat.”

More from MLB.com