- Associated Press - Friday, September 23, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Los Angeles Angels quite enjoy playing spoiler.

Yunel Escobar hit a two-run homer and pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega had three RBIs during a six-run ninth inning, lifting the Angels over the Houston Astros 10-6 on Friday night.

The loss dropped Houston to 2 1/2 games behind the Tigers for the second AL wild card, a tough blow after clawing back with a five-run sixth inning to make it 6-3 prior to the late-game collapse.

“We want to play spoiler,” C.J. Cron said. “We’re not just going to push over and let them take the series. I think you saw that fight in us toward the end of the game today.”

Houston led 6-4 when Escobar sent a slider from Ken Giles (2-5) into the seats in left field to start the ninth. Giles walked Mike Trout with one out before intentionally walking Albert Pujols. Cron followed with a bloop single to score Trout and put the Angels on top.

Giles was replaced by Michael Feliz after loading the bases with a walk. Ortega cleared the bases with his two-out double, which deflected off shortstop Carlos Correa’s glove, to extend the lead.

“Toughest inning of the year,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “For a lot of reasons.”

Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia was impressed with his team’s comeback.

“You want to play the game the right way,” he said. “You want to play hard, you want to play well but that sometimes doesn’t add up to a win. Tonight we overcame some of our own miscues, rallied and got some big hits on the offensive side.”

Nick Buss had two RBIs for Los Angeles and Cron had an RBI double in the first. The Angels have won three in a row.

It’s the fifth blown save for Giles, who allowed three hits and six runs in 1/3 inning.

“I didn’t do my job,” Giles said. “I put us in a hard position right now, and … I’m going to make up for it.”

Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run single in the sixth that tied it before pinch-hitter Tyler White laced an RBI single to center field to make it 4-3. Jason Castro hit a third straight single to send home another run. Mike Morin took over and Houston got another run home on a passed ball to extend the lead.

Buss drove home a run with a groundout in the eighth to cut the lead to 6-4.

Houston starter Doug Fister allowed five hits and two runs in five innings.

Los Angeles starter Alex Meyer yielded four hits and four runs with three walks in 5 1/3 innings in his seventh major league appearance. Cody Ege (1-0) got the last two outs of the eighth inning for his first major league win.

Pujols doubled to start the second and Cron followed with his double to make it 1-0. A third double, this one by Buss with one out, scored Cron to push the lead to 2-0.


“I’m not going to let Pujols be engaged in that inning. I’ve seen enough of him over the years, as has this organization,” Hinch on why he chose to intentionally walk him in the ninth inning.


Angels: RHP Garrett Richards, who has been out since May after having Tommy John surgery, felt good on Friday after throwing a bullpen session a day before. “He feels great … the ball is really coming out hot,” Scioscia said. “He’s turning it loose and it’s exciting to see him healthy.” Scioscia added that the next step will be to send him to pitch in their instructional league.

Astros: Correa left the game after hitting the ground hard trying to make a catch in the ninth inning. There was no immediate word on his injury. … Houston RHP Lance McCullers, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 3 with an elbow strain, will throw another bullpen in a couple of days after feeling good following his first once since the injury on Thursday. There still isn’t a timetable for his return.


Angels: Jhoulys Chacin (4-6 5.26) will pitch for Los Angeles on Saturday. Chacin allowed six hits and one earned run in five innings in his last start on Monday against Texas but did not factor in the decision.

Astros: Brad Peacock (0-0, 2.86) will make his fourth start for Houston on Saturday. Peacock allowed three hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings in his last start but did not factor in the decision in a 4-2 win over Oakland.

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