Angels rally to pull even with Twins in WC race

Angels rally to pull even with Twins in WC race

MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Sano hit a two-run laser shot off Angels reliever Trevor Gott in the seventh inning to tie the game and force extras, but the Angels capitalized on an error and wild pitch in the 12th inning to win, 4-3, in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. With the victory, the Angels pulled even with the Twins in the race for the second Wild Card, both teams 1 1/2 games behind the Astros. The first game of the doubleheader marked the Twins' fourth straight loss.

Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who threw 5 1/3 innings before giving up a hit, was pulled after walking Joe Mauer to lead off the seventh inning. Sano hit the second pitch he saw from Gott a projected 448 feet from home plate, per Statcast™ data, for his 17th home run of the season.

The score remained 3-3 until the 12th when Daniel Robertson reached base on a Brian Dozier error and moved to second on a Blaine Boyer wild pitch. He came around to score the game-winning run when Kole Calhoun lined a ball sharply toward Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar that he couldn't catch. Closer Huston Street picked up his 37th save of the season for the Angels.

"They cracked the door open for us, no doubt, but we executed well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think Ryan Jackson got a great bunt down. Chris [Iannetta] had good at-bat following that up and Kole hit a rocket."

Calhoun's go-ahead RBI groundout

The Angels broke through off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the sixth inning, loading the bases with no outs for Mike Trout, who drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly. Gibson limited the damage in the sixth, though, and gave up three runs in his 6 1/3 innings.

"It was a battle out there today, they're a good team," Gibson said. "They were pretty patient early and it ended up working in my favor. [In the middle innings] they started swinging more and go to my offspeed early and I got behind a couple of guys. They adjusted like good teams do."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Trout's sac fly to right

Angels strike first: Gibson and Heaney were locked in a pitchers' duel for the first five innings, but the Angels finally had a chance to break the game open in the sixth when Gibson loaded the bases to begin the inning. Trout, who turned the game Thursday on its head with a second-inning grand slam, knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly. The Angels tacked on one more on a fielder's-choice grounder by C.J. Cron. But the inning could have been much worse for Gibson, who got Erick Aybar to ground out to first, ending the threat.

Sano comes up big … again: With the Twins trailing by a pair of runs in the seventh inning, Sano again made his presence felt, crushing a game-tying two-run homer into the second deck in left-center field. The blast was Minnesota's third hit of the day, but by far its biggest. Sano's 17 home runs are the eighth-most by a rookie in club history despite the fact he's played in just 65 games this season. More >

"Sometimes he's going to fail and sometimes he's going to come through," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But we know that there is danger there, getting us back in the game with one good swing."

Pujols' hitless streak reaches new high: Albert Pujols, who has been hampered by right foot pain lately, went 0-for-4. Pujols, who doesn't have a hit since Sept. 12, is now mired in an 0-for-24 slump, a career high, despite hitting the ball hard multiple times in the game. He was walked twice -- once intentionally.

"He hit two bullets," Scioscia said.

Perkins back in the mix: For the first time in nearly three weeks, Twins manager Paul Molitor strolled to the mound to call for his All-Star closer, Glen Perkins, who appeared in a game for the first time since Sept. 1 against the White Sox. The left-hander has struggled with pain in his neck and back for much of the season's second half, making just his 15th appearance since the All-Star break (he pitched in 39 games in the first half). Perkins wasn't in the game long -- just four pitches and one batter in the seventh inning -- but he was effective, throwing all four pitches for strikes and getting Calhoun to strike out looking.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mauer walked to lead off the seventh inning, extending his streak of reaching base safely to 38 consecutive games. The longest active streak in baseball, Mauer's 38-gamer is tied for the third-longest in Twins history, four behind the club record of 42 set by Bob Allison in 1961.

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels:
Matt Shoemaker will get the start as the Angels go for the four-game sweep in the finale, beginning at 11:10 a.m. PT on Sunday. Shoemaker, who hasn't pitched in a game since Sept. 1, missed two starts with a right forearm strain. He's 7-9 with a 4.31 ERA in 24 games this season.

Twins: The Twins will wrap up their four-game series with the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Target Field at 1:10 p.m. CT with right-hander Tyler Duffey taking the mound. Duffey is 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in seven outings in the big leagues this season, including a 3-0 mark with a 2.45 ERA over his last six appearances. Duffey has never faced the Angels.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.