Angels stay in WC picture with rally vs. Texas
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers missed out on a chance to clinch the American League West, as the Angels pulled out a 2-1 victory in the ninth inning on Friday night.
The Rangers need one more win in their final two games, or one more Astros loss, to wrap up the division title. The victory keeps the Angels alive for the second Wild Card spot, although they still need the Astros to lose to the D-backs at least once this weekend.
"In 162 games, anything can happen," said Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, whose team has won 19 of 29 games since Sept. 1 to give itself a chance. "You never want to wait to come down to the end of the season, but if that's the way it goes, hopefully we can be the lucky ones. The Royals did it last year, and hopefully we can pull it off ourselves."
Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson, pitching for the fourth straight night, took over in the ninth in a 1-1 game and gave up a leadoff triple to Mike Trout. Pujols put the Angels ahead with a single over a drawn-in infield.
In the bottom half, Joe Smith -- 13 days removed from spraining his left ankle -- pitched a 1-2-3 inning to pick up his fourth save.
"We're still in a good spot," Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder said. "There is no panic. We just have to come out tomorrow, play good baseball and see what happens."
The Rangers left the clubhouse on Friday long before the Astros finished their game against the D-backs. Texas could have clinched the division title with a Houston loss, but the Astros took care of the D-backs with a 21-5 rout.
"It's nice the way it is," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We knew that we'd get a crack at it today, and if we couldn't do it, we'd get two more chances. I like our chances."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trout-tastic: Three innings after being robbed of extra bases by Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, Trout led off the ninth inning with a triple on a fly ball in the gap in right-center despite a perfectly executed relay. Trout, who scored the winning run on Pujols' ensuing RBI single, has six triples on the season and has put the Angels on his back over the last month. Coming off a brutal August in which he posted a .689 OPS -- his lowest of any month since his first full season -- Trout is batting .304 with eight home runs since Sept. 1, putting pressure on Josh Donaldson for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
"I'm seeing the ball good, just trying to help the team as much as I can," Trout said. "Obviously, August was a rough month for me, just trying to do too much. You have to go up there and take every at-bat like it's your last. We're fighting. That's all you can ask for." More >
Perez gets on roll: Rangers starter Martin Perez gave up a run in the first inning, with C.J. Cron hitting a two-out RBI single on an 0-2 pitch. But with two on, Perez got out of the inning by getting David Freese on a fly to right. Perez ended up retiring 19 of the last 21 batters he faced before leaving after seven innings.
"I stayed focused the whole game and made my pitches," Perez said. "I made one bad pitch in the first inning, got the ball up, and it cost me. That's baseball." Video: [email protected]: Perez twirls seven frames of one-run ball
Weaving out of trouble: Angels starter Jered Weaver remains one of the best in the game at escaping tough jams, and he showed it in the fifth and sixth innings. The Rangers put back-to-back runners on with one out in the fifth after two consecutive errors by usually reliable shortstop Erick Aybar, then pulled off a double steal. But Weaver struck out Chris Gimenez and got Delino DeShields to fly out. With runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia kept Weaver in the game at 82 pitches and with back-to-back lefties coming up. Weaver responded by getting Mitch Moreland to ground out -- on a slick play by second baseman Johnny Giavotella -- and Josh Hamilton to fly out.
"I probably didn't have my best stuff going out there, but I was able to keep them off balance, was able to work out of some situations," said Weaver, who lowered his ERA to 4.64. "Somebody was looking out for me tonight."
Choo waits on Weaver: Choo did a nice job in the fourth inning of waiting on a Weaver changeup instead of trying to pull it. Choo sent a 2-2 pitch to the opposite field with his 22nd home run, which ended up in the visitors' bullpen in left-center for the Rangers' first hit and run of the game.
"We see Mike every day, and there's nobody in the league who is doing more for a team than Mike Trout is doing for our team." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on the Donaldson-Trout MVP debate
The Angels got two overturned calls in the first two innings, helping Weaver keep the Rangers off the board. In the first, DeShields was ruled out at third after replay showed that Freese tagged him on the helmet just before his hand hit the bag.
In the second, Elvis Andrus was ruled out at first after replay showed that Cron's foot hit the base right before Andrus. The Angels are 24-for-41 in challenges this season.
Angels: Hector Santiago takes the ball for the third of a four-game series from Globe Life Park. The 28-year-old left-hander has a 1.48 ERA in five starts against the Rangers this season. First pitch is at 10:05 a.m. PT.
Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis pitches at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. Lewis is going for his 18th win, which would be tied for the sixth highest in one season in club history.
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