Angels creep up on Astros in AL West with 3-2 win
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) At the moment, the Los Angels Angels have their sights set on overtaking two teams in the race for the AL's second wild card berth.
But with the West-leading Houston Astros in town for a three-game series, and another three-game set at Minute Maid Park during the third week of September, the Angels don't mind giving the impression that they are aiming higher.
On Friday night, the Angels parlayed a fielding error by Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel into three unearned runs in the second inning and went on to beat Houston 3-2, putting them within 4 1-2 games of first place.
''It's obviously an important series, and the only way we get these guys where we need them is to beat them,'' winning pitcher Jered Weaver said. ''We don't have to scoreboard watch when when they're on our field, so it's a big win. Hopefully we can take another two out of this series and make things pretty interesting.''
Weaver (7-10) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked two en route to his 138th career victory, which tied Nolan Ryan for second place on the Angels' career list behind Chuck Finley's 165.
''I'm just making strides to get back to where I know I can be, and I felt good tonight,'' Weaver said after his seventh start off the disabled list. ''Obviously, going up against a guy like Dallas, you know runs are going to be scarce. So I just tried to bear down and limit runners. We were able to scratch out three runs in the second and were able to hold them off after that.''
The last time Weaver faced Houston, he beat them 2-0 with a complete-game six-hitter on May 8 at the ''Big A.''
''This is a tough place to play and Weaver has our number. So I knew going in I was going to have be pretty good,'' Keuchel (17-7) said. ''I thought I was pretty good - except for that one play.''
The left-hander, who last year became the first Astros pitcher ever to win a Gold Glove, committed his first error in 62 chances this season and the Angels turned it into a three-run second inning.
''With a guy like Keuchel, on the mound, there's not many mistakes that he's going to make,'' Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said. ''He's had an unbelievable season and they've been playing well, so we've got to go out and battle every pitch.''
Keuchel jumped about a foot off the mound to field a comebacker by Taylor Featherston and misplayed it, loading the bases after a one-out double by Erick Aybar and a two-out walk to Carlos Perez.
''It's a routine play that I just botched. I mean I can't really say anything else,'' Keuchel said. ''It had a lot of topspin. It's not like I haven't made that play before. That was the difference in the game - a routine play that I missed and that was the difference. So it's frustrating and it doesn't sit very well. It's a tough one to swallow.''
Aybar came home on a wild pitch - the 17th run the Angels have scored that way this season - and Calhoun followed with a two-run single that increased his career-high RBI total to 75.
The Astros closed to 3-2 in the sixth on Carlos Gomez's fourth homer, a towering drive to left-center after Weaver walked Carlos Correa with one out and got behind Gomez 2-0. Weaver struck out the next two batters before manager Mike Scioscia went to the bullpen.
Fernando Salas and Joe Smith each pitched a hitless inning and Huston Street retired the side in order in the ninth for his 34th save in 38 attempts. The Angels remained three games behind Texas and two behind Minnesota in the race for the second wild card spot.
Keuchel gave up five hits through six innings, struck out seven and walked two.
A SLICE OF HISTORY
Jose Altuve doubled in the first inning for his 800th hit in 647 big league games, making him the fastest to reach that figure in Astros' history. The previous mark was held by Cesar Cedeno (707), who needed one fewer game than Jeff Bagwell.
Astros: RHP Scott Feldman was diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder after undergoing an MRI in Houston on Thursday, and is done for the season. The 11-year veteran, in the second year of a three-year, $30 million deal, was 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA in 18 starts.
Astros: Rookie RHP Lance McCullers (5-5) is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA over his last eight starts. The only victory during that stretch was a 6-3 decision against the Angels.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (8-9) held Texas to one hit over six innings last Sunday in a 7-0 home win, following a stretch of eight starts in which he was 0-5 with a 6.46 ERA.