ANAHEIM -- David Freese hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Angels stunned the Mariners, 3-2, on Saturday night at Angel Stadium despite facing Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
Leading off the ninth in a tie game, Freese jumped on an 89-mph cutter from reliever Danny Farquhar and ripped it over the center-field fence to give the Angels a huge win in their playoff push.
The Angels kept pace with the Astros in the American League Wild Card hunt, remaining a half-game behind Houston, who also won Saturday. The Angels are even with the Astros in the loss column with eight regular-season games remaining for the Halos.
"It's huge," Freese said. "Every game counts -- we always try and preach that no matter what time of year it is -- but this was big. Knowing Felix was on the mound, you just battle and try to stay in the ballgame."
It was the first career regular-season walk-off for Freese -- who, of course, did hit a memorable walk-off home run for the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series.
Hernandez worked out of a couple of early-inning jams -- he held the Angels to one run in the first two innings despite allowing five hits, walking two and throwing a pair of wild pitches -- to throw six innings of two-run baseball. But he settled for a no-decision after allowing a game-tying solo home run to C.J. Cron in the sixth, meaning he won't get a chance to win 20 games in his next, and last, start of the season.
For the Angels, Andrew Heaney also went six innings and allowed two runs -- but it could have been much more, if not for a brilliant play in center field by Mike Trout, who robbed a potential three-run homer off the bat of Jesus Montero in the fourth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dodge ball: Hernandez was in deep trouble the first two innings, but only allowed one run in those two frames despite giving up five hits, including a Johnny Giavotella triple, two walks, two wild pitches and a catcher's interference call. Hernandez helped himself with a nice defensive play on a squeeze bunt by Erick Aybar, flipping the ball with his glove to catcher Jesus Sucre to nail Giavotella at home in the second.
"Aybar is a good bunter and they had a fast runner on third," said Hernandez. "I was like, 'They might do it here.' We threw a pitchout and they didn't do anything, then the next one he bunted. … That's the fastest I can move."
Trout's incredible robbery: Trout made one of the best catches of the year in the fourth inning, climbing the wall in dead center field and leaping high over the fence to take a three-run homer away from Montero. The highlight-reel play kept the Angels within a run of the Mariners, at 2-1, and Seattle didn't score in the inning despite having two runners on with no outs. After coming down with the ball, Trout pumped his fist, as the Angel Stadium crowd gave him a long, loud ovation.
"When he hit it, I thought it was gonna be way gone," Trout said. "I just told myself, 'Get to the wall.' I climbed it, and everything else, everything was just perfect."
Ketel power: Mariners rookie shortstop Ketel Marte has flashed a good glove, excellent speed and the ability to hit for average from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitting leadoff man since being called up two months ago. But Marte displayed his power for the first time, unleashing his first career home run with a shot to left field leading off the third. The home run was projected to land 410 feet from home plate by Statcast™ and gave Seattle a 2-1 lead.
Cron gone: Hernandez has dominated the Angels throughout his career, and the Angels trailed through five innings on Saturday after they were unable to capitalize on some big opportunities early in the game. But Cron pulled the Angels even in the sixth with moonshot off Hernandez to center field -- the longest home run off King Felix since 2012. The home run, Cron's 16th of the season, was hit 110 mph and projected to land 437 feet away, per Statcast™.
"You really can't say enough about C.J. Cron, what he's done the whole year," Freese said. "He tied it up off an unbelievable pitcher."
"I haven't seen a better one. The one that he made in Baltimore a couple of years ago is just flat-out incredible, but for him to get up on that wall and hang and get that kind of range to take a ball that's way out of the park and bring it back into the park -- that's just an incredible catch." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Trout's catch
Street going down with his groin injury could be a huge blow for the Angels, who are already missing setup man Joe Smith. Smith has a sprained ankle which could keep him out the rest of the season. If Street's injury forces him to miss extended time, the Angels would be without their two top relievers as they try to make the postseason.
"It's tough. It's not good," Scioscia said. "We'll see what's going on. It's tough to lose Joe and Huston, and we're going to do it by committee and hold the leads."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon successfully challenged a safe call on a pickoff throw by catcher Jesus Sucre attempting to catch Chris Iannetta off first base in the sixth inning. After a one-minute, 53-second review, the call was overturned and Iannetta was ruled out.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma (9-4, 3.67) gets the start as Seattle closes out its final road trip in Sunday's 12:35 p.m. PT game at Angel Stadium. Iwakuma is 7-2 with a 2.66 ERA over his last 10 starts, including a no-hitter. He's had a history of success against the Angels (8-2, 2.62 in 13 games), going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts this year.
Angels:Jered Weaver takes the mound for the series finale against the Mariners. The last time he faced the Mariners, in Seattle on Sept. 16, Weaver was ejected after hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch following a verbal exchange between the two. Seattle won that game, 3-1, with Weaver taking the loss.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.