- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Astros dropped farther behind Texas in the American League West standings after a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, a game they came extremely close to tying in the ninth inning.

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back homers in the first inning and the Angels held on for an important 4-3 victory.

The victory moves the Angels 2 1-2 games behind Houston for the second American League wild-card spot. The loss by the Astros left them 1 1-2 games behind the Rangers, with Texas playing a late game in Oakland on Tuesday night.

The Astros trailed by one with two outs in the ninth when rookie Carlos Correa launched a pitch from Huston Street to straightway center field. It bounced off the wall on the hill in center at an estimated distance of 433 feet for a double. Street intentionally walked Jed Lowrie after that before striking out Evan Gattis to end it.

“It’s tough,” Correa said. “It’s one of the balls that I’ve hit the hardest all year. I was hoping for it to go out, but it didn’t.”

What’s worse for the Astros is that a ball hit there next year will be a homer with Houston taking out the hill and moving the fence in center field in a bit this offseason.

“I just wanted it to get over Trout’s head,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “It continued to carry. As it got closer to the fence, my thought was: ‘It’s a home run next year.’ Not quite soon enough.”

There was one on in the first when Trout launched his 40th homer into left-center to make it 2-0. The 36th home run this season by Pujols extended the lead to 3-0.

Houston cut the lead to one when Marwin Gonzalez and Chris Carter hit consecutive solo shots in the second inning.

The Angels added an insurance run on an RBI single by Kole Calhoun in the eighth to help them snap a six-game losing streak in Houston.

Hector Santiago (9-9) allowed four hits and two runs in five-plus innings. He was ejected for the first time in his career for arguing with the umpire on his way off the field after he was lifted.

Street got the last four outs for his 39th save.

Rookie Lance McCullers (5-7) allowed four hits, including a career-high two homers, and three runs with nine strikeouts in seven innings in his 20th career start.

“Those two were not exactly where I wanted them,” he said of the home run pitches. “They ran back up over the plate and gave them an opportunity to put a good swing on it which both of them did unfortunately.”

The Astros got within a run in the eighth when Lowrie scored on a wild pitch by Street.

Houston’s 209 home runs this season are the second-most in franchise history.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: OF Carlos Gomez (intercostal strain) missed his 10th straight game. The Astros hoped to get him back by this weekend, but aren’t sure if he’ll be ready. Hinch said Tuesday he isn’t able to swing a bat at full speed and take batting practice yet.

BIRTHDAY EATS

Correa wasn’t interested in having a drink to celebrate his 21st birthday. The star rookie marked the big day with a huge breakfast with his family, who was visiting from Puerto Rico. The clan ate at a popular Houston eatery called The Breakfast Klub where Correa’s huge appetite was on full display. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Correa scarfed down an order of fried chicken and waffles, a banana and pecan pancake, French toast, a side of scrambled eggs mixed with ham, cheese and spinach and washed it all down with orange juice and water.

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.64) opposes Los Angeles RHP Nick Tropeano (2-2, 5.06) when the series wraps up Wednesday. Fiers has been great at home since a trade from Milwaukee, going 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA in three starts, including throwing a no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 21.

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