HOUSTON -- Leading, 6-4, in the top of the ninth, Ken Giles and the Astros surrendered six runs, letting the Angels rally for a 10-6 win at Minute Maid Park in a game the Astros needed to keep their playoff hopes alive.Los Angeles completed the rally behind a massive offensive
HOUSTON -- Leading, 6-4, in the top of the ninth, Ken Giles and the Astros surrendered six runs, letting the Angels rally for a 10-6 win at Minute Maid Park in a game the Astros needed to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Los Angeles completed the rally behind a massive offensive display that included four hits -- including a two-run homer by Yunel Escobar and a three-run double by Rafael Ortega -- as well as three walks and a stolen base. The Angels have now won three straight -- all against American League West opponents -- and five of their last seven.
"Toughest inning of the year, for a lot of reasons," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Just a tough loss for this time of year, that fashion. We have six outs and our two primary relievers left. We felt really good about the position we were in, but it will teach you it's never over. ... That was a gut-wrencher."
With the loss, the Astros lost more ground in the AL Wild Card race, falling 2 1/2 games behind the Tigers, two games behind the Orioles and a half-game behind the Mariners. It was Houston's second consecutive loss to Los Angeles after winning the previous 11.
After their sixth-inning surge put five runs on the board, the Astros led by two in the top of the ninth when Giles came on to close, but he quickly gave up a leadoff single to Cliff Pennington and a two-run homer to Escobar to tie the score at 6. That was the first homer Giles gave up on his slider since June. He later gave up an RBI bloop single to C.J. Cron that gave the Angels the lead.
Later in the inning, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who had made a bevy of defensive plays all night, almost made a fantastic diving grab on Ortega's two-run double, which extended the Angels lead to four runs, but he couldn't quite come up with the snag and instead landed awkwardly on his shoulder. He left the game shortly after.
Through a team spokesman, Correa said he expects to play Saturday night, but Hinch said he won't know the actual severity of Correa's injury until during the day on Saturday.
The Angels appeared to give away the game in the bottom of the sixth, when they walked two -- both of whom scored -- committed two errors and allowed singles that resulted in five runs and a three-run deficit.
"We cracked the door open for them with the walks and misplays in the field," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We made some royal miscues. A lot of times you don't get that [game] back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Flashing leather: In a game that was tight early, the Astros needed some special plays on defense to keep the Angels at bay, and Correa delivered. The 21-year-old shortstop flew around the infield and made a couple of huge defensive stops to rob Los Angeles of potential hits, but none was more impressive than his leaping snag in the fifth to turn Kole Calhoun's line drive into an out.
"He always comes up with some really big plays and some acrobatic plays," Hinch said. "He's got a lot of range. He's got an arm to make up for any sort of angle that he's on in the field. It certainly was a good game for him defensively."
A little help from his friends:Albert Pujols tied Barry Bonds for 15th on the all-time doubles list at 601 with his double in the second inning, but it took a review to make it official. Pujols' liner was originally called a foul ball before the call was overturned. It proved to be a crucial play, with Cron and Nick Buss following with doubles to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Sixth-inning surge: For the first half of the game, the Astros' offense was as quiet as it was for most of Thursday night's 2-0 loss. That changed in the bottom of the sixth, when the bats came alive with five runs off four hits, two walks, a passed ball and two Angels errors to storm out to a 6-3 lead. Marwin Gonzalez arguably had the hit of the game, a bases-loaded two-run single on a full count to tie the score at 3.
"We did a good job that inning," Hinch said. "We put a lot of plate appearances together that were positive in our favor. ... They made a couple errors [and] we capitalized on just about everything. That's how five- and six-run innings happen on both ends."
Giles can't get job done: At a time when the Astros couldn't afford it, Giles had his worst outing of the season, surrendering a season-high six runs on three hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Giles, who was traded to the Astros during the offseason, hadn't surrendered more than two runs in any outing with Houston.
"Plain and simple: Just didn't do my job," Giles said. "That's all I can say. Didn't do my job. I put us in a hard position. Right now I'm going to make up for it. I'm going to do my best to carry this team and pick up my slack, even from just one bad outing. I can't let this happen at this time."
"When you've got a chance to spoil it for somebody, you've got to do it." -- Angels second baseman Cliff Pennington, after his leadoff single ignited a six-run ninth that dealt a serious blow to the Astros' playoff hopes
"They're all a kick in the shins. You hate to lose, and you never want to give it up, but it happens, and you've got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and come back tomorrow ready to play." -- Astros starter Doug Fister, on bouncing back from a tough September loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Angels entered the game with a 4-76 record when trailing after eight innings. (By comparison, they were 60-3 when leading after eight.) But they beat the odds -- and the Astros -- with their six-run ninth.
Angels: Los Angeles will continue its efforts to disrupt Houston's playoff chances behind right-hander Jhoulys Chacín on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. PT. The Angels lost their first six games of the season at Minute Maid Park before ending the streak with a 2-0 win on Thursday night.
Astros: Going with right-hander Brad Peacock, the Astros continue their four-game series with the Angels on Saturday night at 6:10 CT at Minute Maid Park. Peacock has been solid in each of his three starts with Houston this season, posting a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the Angels on Friday.