Astros-Angels Preview

As the Houston Astros continue to struggle, the Los Angeles Angels have reason to believe they can catch the AL West leaders.

The Angels can make up more ground by completing a three-game home sweep of the Astros on Sunday.

C.J. Cron hit a tiebreaking home run to lead off the eighth inning and helped lift Los Angeles (72-69) to a third consecutive 3-2 victory Saturday.

By dropping Houston (76-66) to 1-4 on a 10-game trip and with Texas' loss to Oakland on Saturday, the third-place Angels are two games behind the Rangers - owners of the second wild-card spot - and 3 1/2 back of the division-leading Astros.

"We need to win ballgames," said Cron, who has 11 RBIs in 10 games this month. "It's a good time against a good team."

A winner in seven of the last 10 contests, Los Angeles has four games remaining with both Houston and Texas.

''We have plenty of games left against the guys ahead of us," Cron said. "It was good to get the first two, and now we've gotta come back (Sunday) and try to sweep them.''

Houston has dropped nine of its last 14, but is not about to panic.

''Nobody's going to let up and nobody's going to feel sorry for us, so right now we're just going to have to fight back and keep pushing,'' catcher Hank Conger said. ''Every game is a pressure situation for us, but we'll be fine. I don't think anyone's really panicking. Momentum's everything. I mean, yeah, we've got a one-game lead in the division, but whoever gets hot is going to win the division.''

Houston, 28-42 on the road, has totaled 11 hits in the series after recording 13 during an 11-5 win over the Athletics on Wednesday. Carlos Gomez and Jed Lowrie are a combined 1 for 15 in the set.

The Astros hope for a better effort than June 24 when Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.52 ERA) allowed a run and four hits through six innings of a 2-1, 13-inning victory over them in his Angels debut. The left-hander, however, needs to turn things around at home after yielding 13 runs, 13 hits and walking six in 8 1-3 innings to lose his last two starts there.

"I just want to pitch better than what I did," Heaney said after allowing five runs in five innings of Tuesday's 6-4 home defeat to the Dodgers.

Making his first appearance against the Angels, Mike Fiers (2-1, 2.92) went 2-0 with an 0.67 ERA and tossed a no-hitter over his previous four starts before giving up four runs, five hits and four walks in five-plus innings of Monday's 10-9 loss to the A's

"Falling behind in counts, giving up free bases isn't how I'm supposed to pitch. ... I just need to be better mentally right there,'' the right-hander said.

David Freese is 2 for 4 with a double against Fiers, and is batting .389 with five RBIs through 10 games in September since missing more than a month with a broken finger.

Conger homered Saturday, and is 7 for 17 with three RBIs and six runs scored in his last five games against his former team.

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