ARLINGTON -- Carlos Gomez scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Rangers held on to defeat the Angels, 10-9, on Friday night at Globe Life Park. The Rangers let a five-run lead slip away before pushing across the winning run in the first of a crucial three-game matchup against the Angels with playoff implications.
The Rangers are now three games behind the Twins in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot and four games behind the Yankees. The Angels are 1 1/2 games behind the Twins and 2 1/2 behind the Yankees.
Gomez started the winning rally by drawing a two-out walk off Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian. With Joey Gallo at the plate, Gomez stole second and went to third on catcher Martin Maldonado's throwing error. A walk to Gallo brought Mike Napoli to the plate, but Gomez scored when Bedrosian bounced a 2-2 slider and Maldonado couldn't keep the ball from rolling too far up the third baseline.
"That's why you go to Spring Training," Gomez said. "Those situations can make a big difference in a game. In Spring Training, you work on reading balls in the dirt and taking good leads. I know the pitcher had faith in his catcher and I was expecting him to bounce the ball."
"We're going to keep going," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't make a couple plays tonight, but we swung the bats well, got back in the game. We just couldn't get the hit at the end."
The Rangers led, 9-4, after six innings on the strength of home runs from Gallo, Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo. But the Angels, who added newcomers Brandon Phillips and Justin Upton into their lineup on Friday, rallied with three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to tie it.
Rangers starter Cole Hamels allowed four runs in five innings. Angels starter Tyler Skaggs had an even rougher night, allowing six runs -- five earned -- in two-plus innings. Scioscia used eight relievers and Rangers manager Jeff Banister used five behind Hamels. Alex Claudio was the last one, and he pitched 1 2/3 scoreless for the win.
Claudio, with the bases loaded and two outs, brought the game to an end by getting Eric Young Jr. on a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus for a force at second. At four hours, 33 minutes, it was the longest nine-inning game for each team in franchise history.
"It was a big win for the team, a big win for me, a big win for everybody," Claudio said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gallo catches Judge: Gallo moved into a tie with Aaron Judge for the American League lead in home runs with his 37th, coming in the third inning off Skaggs. It went 424 feet, according to Statcast™, landing beyond the Rangers bullpen in deep center field. It was his seventh home run in 81 at-bats off a left-hander.
Diekman's terrific return: Rangers reliever Jake Diekman made his first appearance of the season on Friday after missing the first five months while recovering from three abdominal surgeries. Diekman was thrust into a difficult situation and performed admirably. Diekman entered the game in the seventh after a two-run double by C.J. Cron cut the Rangers lead to 9-6. The Angels still had runners at second and third with no outs but Diekman struck out Maldonado, retired Cliff Pennington on a fly to deep center that scored a run and got Phillips to ground out. That ended the Angels rally with the Rangers still with a two-run lead.
"I was too excited on the mound, felt my mechanics [move] a little quick," Diekman said. "Other than that, I felt great. … I'm healthy enough to get hitters out, I feel like. I feel like I'll continue getting stronger and my arm will come back better. Today was big."
"It was awesome. I'm happy for him. It's been a long road for him. We're all happy for him that he's back and he's going to be a big part of the back end of that bullpen." -- Mike Napoli, on Diekman's return
"I had my money on five hours. It was a long game. A little frustrating when you don't come out on top, but that's baseball. We're going to do it again tomorrow and change the result." -- Simmons, on playing in the longest nine-inning game in franchise history
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Choo's 2-run homer in the sixth inning was hit at 108 mph with a projected distance of 447 feet, well up on Greene's Hill in center field. The 447-footer is the longest projected distance of any homer Choo has hit since Statcast™ began in 2015.
Mike Trout extended his on-base streak to a career-high 11 plate appearances on Friday before popping out in the eighth inning. He fell just short of tying the Angels' record for most consecutive plate appearances reaching base (12), which was set by Bobby Grich in Sept. 1984.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the second, Andrus was initially called safe at second after trying to advance on Nomar Mazara's grounder, but the ruling was overturned after the Angels successfully challenged the call.
The Angels also won a challenge in the third, when Trout avoided a pick-off attempt by stealing second. Trout was initially called out, but replay showed that he managed to touch the base with his left hand before he was tagged, prompting the umpires to overturn the call.
After Pennington and Phillips strung together back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth, Trout hit a grounder to Gallo, who bobbled the ball before firing to second to narrowly get Phillips for the force out. The Angels challenged the call, but it was upheld after a replay review.
"I really thought I was safe," Phillips said. "I think a lot of people thought that, too. I bet ya'll probably thought that, too."
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco gets the start against the Rangers at 4:15 p.m. PT Saturday at Globe Life Park. Nolasco is 2-0 with a 5.17 ERA in his last six starts and 0-2 with an 11.12 ERA in three starts against the Rangers this season.
Rangers: Right-hander A.J. Griffin pitches against the Angels at 6:15 p.m. CT Saturday at Globe Life Park. Griffin is 2-3 with a 4.44 ERA in his last five starts. He is 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels.