ANAHEIM -- Trailing by three with two outs in the ninth inning, the Astros rallied against veteran Angels closer Huston Street, scoring five runs to avoid a sweep and capture an improbable 5-3 victory at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With the Astros down to their last out, Preston Tucker hit a solo homer to right-center field, George Springer lined a triple on a ball just out of the reach of diving right fielder Kole Calhoun and Jose Altuve lined an RBI single on Street's next pitch. The next batter, Carlos Correa, scalded a one-hopper, tracked by Statcast™ at 111.2 mph, that got stuck in the webbing of Taylor Featherston's glove, preventing the Angels' second baseman from making the throw for a game-saving out.
Jed Lowrie was then summoned to pinch-hit for Evan Gattis and lofted a high fly ball near the right-field foul pole, just beyond Calhoun's glove and into the seats for the three-run homer that gave Houston a critical victory.
"Literally down to your last strike," Lowrie said. "You've got fans in the stadium chanting sweep and to come up and put up a five-spot, I think that's about a dramatic of a momentum change as it gets."
The Astros (77-66) remained 1 1/2 games up on the Rangers for first place in the American League West with only their fourth win in the last 11 games heading into Monday's showdown in Arlington.The Angels (72-70) had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to three games behind Texas for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"We needed it, especially going in to play a second-place team now," Astros closer Luke Gregerson said. "It's a lot nicer to go in there with a 1 1/2-game and a 4 1/2-game lead [over the Angels] instead of a half and a 2 1/2. It makes all the difference and hopefully we can just carry the momentum. You see what we did in the ninth tonight off a good guy, and hopefully we can take it into Texas and try to do the same thing."
Mike Trout put the Angels on the board with his 35th home run in the first and C.J. Cron, who drove in the winning run with an eighth-inning solo homer on Saturday, homered in the second and seventh, giving him three in a stretch of four plate appearances. But it didn't matter in the end.
"Obviously I was pretty frustrated afterwards," Street said after allowing a career high in earned runs. "More in disbelief. You just think that one of those balls is going to find a glove, and it didn't."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Astros get off the mat: The Astros' rally was a much-needed boost for a team that had struggled mightily to come up with clutch hits in the past week. The Astros were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the series before Altuve's RBI single cut the lead to 3-2, keeping the inning alive for Correa to reach and set the stage for Lowrie's stunning homer.
"That's what's made this team great all year is we literally fought to the last pitch," Lowrie said. More >
A game of inches: Calhoun found that out the hard way in the ninth. The Angels' right fielder was an inch or two away from making a diving catch on Springer's triple in the right-center-field gap, then came about the same distance short of robbing Lowrie of his game-winning homer near the foul pole.
"You want to say you make that play, but it was just a tough play, man," said Calhoun, who felt he was even closer on the Springer ball. "I just ran out of room. If I'm an inch taller, maybe I get to that ball." More >
Stuck: Just before Lowrie's homer, Featherston could've ended the game with a sensational diving play, but he could never transfer the ball to his throwing hand. Correa's grounder got stuck in the "I" web of Featherston's Wilson A2000 after his diving catch. It's the first time that has happened to the rookie infielder.
"I don't really have any words to describe it," Featherston said. "Y'all saw it. It just got stuck. Bummer."
From jump street: Trout pounced on the very first pitch he saw from Astros right-hander Mike Fiers -- a low, 90-mph fastball -- and pulverized it just beyond the stacked bullpens in left field. It was the second straight at-bat in which Trout had put the first pitch in play, the previous one resulting in a double to left-center field. Heading into Sunday, Trout had put the first pitch in play only 20 times, fewer than 309 other players. The Major League average on first pitches put in play is .338/.345/.548.
"It's just trying to see a good pitch and put a good swing on it," Trout said. "That's the way it is." More >
"We're going to be fine. I think that you can see a lot of the things we need to do to reach our goal, especially on this homestand. We're going to take it on the road and go for it, play our style of game. I think these guys have the mindset for it. Even with a setback like today, there's a lot of confidence in that clubhouse, and we're going to get after it." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on his team moving on from such a tough loss
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Trout and Albert Pujols are only the second pair of Angels teammates to notch 35-plus homers in the same season, joining the trio of Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus and Mo Vaughn in 2000. Also, Trout is the first player since Alex Rodriguez to log back-to-back 35-homer campaigns before his age-24 season.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros:The Astros will send lefty Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63 ERA) to the mound to open a crucial four-game series against the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT Monday at Globe Life Park. Kazmir has won only once since July 24, going 1-5 with a 3.59 ERA for Houston.
Angels:Garrett Richards (13-10, 3.71) takes the ball on Monday, opposing fellow right-hander Taijuan Walker (10-8, 4.70 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series in Seattle. Richards has posted three straight quality starts and is coming off giving up only two runs in 7 2/3 innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. The 27-year-old has a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this season. First pitch from Safeco Field is 7:10 p.m. PT.