Angels stun Rangers, keep up Wild Card push

Angels stun Rangers, keep up Wild Card push

ARLINGTON -- The Angels stunned the Rangers with five runs in the top of the ninth inning and rallied for an 11-10 victory on Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Park to keep their American League Wild Card playoff hopes alive.

To clinch the AL West, the Rangers need either a victory on Sunday or a loss by the Astros on Sunday.

Explaining possible tiebreakers for postseason

"It's tough to swallow," Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "Going into the ninth inning with a four-run lead, end up losing the game -- it's a tough one. But we have another game tomorrow, so we have to forget about this one."

Stunned Rangers looking ahead to Sunday

The Angels finished the night a game behind the Astros for the second Wild Card spot, with the Astros beating Arizona later on Saturday. If the two teams finish the weekend tied, the Angels would travel to Houston to play a tiebreaker on Monday, since the Astros won the season series, 10-9. The Twins' 5-1 loss to the Royals mathematically eliminated them from postseason contention.

The Rangers led, 10-6, going into the ninth inning, and closer Shawn Tolleson came in to finish it. But Tolleson, pitching in the fifth straight game, began the inning by giving up back-to-back home runs to Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun.

Calhoun's back-to-back homer

Rangers manager Jeff Banister immediately got right-hander Ross Ohlendorf into the game, and Ohlendorf got Mike Trout on a grounder to short. But Albert Pujols reached on a double when second baseman Rougned Odor and first baseman Mike Napoli couldn't catch his high fly down the right-field line.

Pujols' bloop double

Ohlendorf struck out David Murphy, but C.J. Cron singled to center to make it 10-9. David Freese, Carlos Perez and Johnny Giavotella also singled to give the Angels the lead.

Rangers' bullpen rewrites story vs. Angels

"When you're down like that, you know it's a long road ahead," Calhoun said. "A lot of things have to go our way in that ninth inning, and we had some great at-bats right there. But nobody's going to quit. We have to come out tomorrow and win another baseball game tomorrow. Like I said, great effort by everybody."

Josh Hamilton hit two homers, one in the second inning and another in the seventh. Odor also homered in the seventh to give the Rangers a four-run lead.

"I think everybody is stunned by this, but that's baseball," outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said.

Angels amazed by crazy contest

"I have no words," Angels starter Hector Santiago added. "Honestly, this is one of the best games I've been a part of. It's crazy."

Hamilton's two home runs

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Let him hit: With the Angels down by one, two outs and runners on the corners in the top of the ninth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia could have gone to any one of his three left-handed hitters -- Efren Navarro, Matt Joyce, David DeJesus -- for the platoon advantage against the right-handed Ohlendorf. But he let his No. 8-hitting catcher, Perez, bat. And Perez, who entered batting .343 since the start of September, came through with a broken-bat flare into shallow center. The next batter, Giavotella, hit what would be the game-winner, a line drive up the middle.

"That is a great comeback," said Scioscia, who kept Perez in because he felt he was "in game flow."

"You're not going to get that many hits strung together in the ninth inning against back-end-of-the-bullpen guys, but we did it."

Perez's game-tying single

Beltre delivers big hits: The Rangers took advantage of two Angels errors to score four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Adrian Beltre capped the rally with a two-run single off right-handed reliever Fernando Salas. Beltre also had an RBI single in the sixth.

Beltre's RBI single

Three big outs: After the Angels blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the fifth -- on a four-pitch walk, a single, three consecutive misplayed balls and a two-run single by Beltre -- lefty reliever Jose Alvarez essentially saved the game. Alvarez, a converted starter, entered with runners on first and second, none out and the score tied at 5, then struck out Prince Fielder, got Napoli to fly out and struck out Hamilton.

"You just have to think about making a good pitch," Alvarez said. "You can't think about the next batter if you haven't finished with the first one. I was just trying to change the sequence to these guys, because they've seen me so much this season. ... Thankfully, I got it done."

Retaliation: Giavotella was having a rough game when he stepped to the plate with the game tied and two outs in the ninth inning. In the fifth, he was spiked in the left calf by Odor after Freese's errant throw, saw a blooper go off his glove on a leaping attempt and gave Aybar a late throw to second, causing a misplay by the veteran shortstop. In the sixth, he gave the Angels a one-run lead with an RBI double but was thrown out trying to take third on the throw home.

Giavotella spiked at second base

Giavotella, 27-for-73 in late-and-close situations this season, said Odor apologized to him afterward.

"The best way to retaliate in those situations is just to beat the team," Giavotella said. "You can't get personal. I'm not holding any grudges, by any means, but I'm very grateful I came up with that big knock."

Giavotella's go-ahead single

Hit-and-run sparks rally: Trailing, 6-5, the Rangers had Andrus on first with one out in the sixth and Robinson Chirinos at the plate against right-hander Mike Morin. With a 1-1 count, Banister put on the hit-and-run, and Chirinos delivered a single to center, moving Andrus to third. Left-hander Cesar Ramos came in to pitch but walked pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to load the bases. Choo then singled to left, putting the Rangers ahead.

QUOTABLE
"Nobody's ready to go home. We're not quitting. We're not quitting on each other. We're going out and playing for each other." -- Calhoun, on the resiliency the Angels have shown all season

"Honestly, no. When you get booed a lot, maybe it crosses your mind. But that inning I was very focused on assuming I was going to get a chance to hit." -- Freese, a World Series hero in 2011, when asked if he thought about being part of another furious rally against the Rangers

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time a team came back when it was four runs down in the ninth inning on the road was on June 25, 2012, when the Cardinals did it against the Marlins. Since then, teams had lost 1,761 consecutive games in that situation. ... The last time the Angels scored five-plus runs in the ninth to win a nine-inning game by one run was Aug. 29, 1986. ... The 18 combined pitchers used by the Rangers and Angels set an AL record and tied the Major League record, also done by the Cardinals and Pirates on Sept. 30, 2007.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The only pitch Jo-Jo Reyes has thrown for the Angels this season resulted in him being the winning pitcher in their most improbable victory of the season. Reyes got Fielder to line out to end the eighth, pitching in relief of Mat Latos because Scioscia had nowhere else to turn in his shorthanded bullpen. Reyes hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2011 and wasn't added to the roster until Wednesday. He went about three weeks without throwing after the Triple-A season ended in early September.

"Right place at the right time," Reyes said, smiling. "These guys did all the work. I threw one pitch. This one of the funnest games I've ever been a part of."

Reyes retires Fielder, ends 8th

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: Since Sunday's 12:05 p.m. PT game will have postseason implications, the Angels are expected to go with Garrett Richards on three days' rest. Richards, making two starts in four days for the first time in his career, gave up one run in 7 2/3 innings in his only start at Globe Life Park this season.

Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels will start at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday against the Angels in the final game of the season with the AL West title on the line. Hamels is 6-0 with a 3.39 ERA in his last nine starts, and the Rangers have won all nine.

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.