Angels outlast Astros 4-3 in 12, preventing Houston clinch
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Kaleb Cowart scored when Kyle Tucker made an error on Andrelton Simmons' two-out grounder in the 12th inning, and the Los Angeles Angels prevented the Houston Astros from clinching homefield advantage throughout the AL playoffs with a 4-3 victory Thursday night.
Cowart drew a walk from Joe Biagini (3-2) leading off the 12th for Los Angeles. He stole second without sliding and advanced on a groundout before Tucker failed to handle Simmons' hot grounder to first, ending the Angels' fourth walkoff win of the season.
Josh Reddick tied his career high with his fifth hit in the 12th for the Astros, who loaded the bases three times in the final five innings without scoring. Jake Marisnick struck out in the 12th against Trevor Cahill (4-9), the Angels' $9 million ninth reliever. Cahill earned his first victory since July 2, a month after he was banished to the bullpen.
Despite the loss, the Astros (104-55) are two games ahead of the Yankees (102-57), who didn't play, for the AL's best record. Houston won four of seven over New York during the regular season to claim the tiebreaker.
The Astros are only one game ahead of the Dodgers (103-56), who have clinched the NL's best record. Houston beat Los Angeles to win the 2017 World Series to claim its first championship, winning Game 7 on the road. If the Astros and Dodgers finish with the same regular-season record and meet in the World Series again, Houston would host Game 1 by virtue of its superior intradivisional record.
Kevan Smith had an early two-run double for the Angels, who used 10 pitchers for only the third time in club history and the second time this season.
Jack Mayfield hit a tying two-run homer and Kyle Tucker also homered for Houston, which fielded a lineup consisting mostly of backups to open their final series of the regular season. The Astros homered in their 22nd straight game, but stranded 17 runners while losing for only the second time in 11 games.
Wade Miley yielded five hits and three runs in four innings for the Astros. The left-hander managed to get more than three outs for only the second time in five starts this September, but it was still another uninspiring effort in his bid to earn manager A.J. Hinch's trust for a postseason rotation spot.
Jaime Barria yielded four hits and three runs in the final start of his second big league season for the Angels before leaving with a blister on his right toe in the fifth inning.
Brian Goodwin left in the second inning with a back spasm after an awkward headfirst slide into second base. Kean Wong made his Angels debut as a pinch-runner and eventually scored.
Tucker connected in the fourth, homering in his second straight game.
José Altuve got the day off to rest, and his replacement at shortstop came through in the fifth: Mayfield hit a two-run shot for the second homer of his late-blooming career. The 28-year-old infielder made his big league debut in May after six seasons in the minors.
The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but pinch-hitter George Springer grounded into a double play against Luke Bard, the Angels' eighth pitcher in Houston's last 18 batters. Los Angeles manager Brad Ausmus went extraordinarily deep into his bullpen despite the meaninglessness of the game to a franchise wrapping up another disappointing year.
Houston loaded the bases with one out again in the 11th, but Tucker struck out and Aledmys Diaz grounded into a forceout.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa will sit out the final four games of the regular season to rest his stiff back, but Hinch is hopeful he will be ready for the division series. Correa also sat out Tuesday and Wednesday.
Angels: All-Star selection Tommy La Stella will return from his broken leg to be the Halos' designated hitter on Friday, manager Brad Ausmus said. La Stella's breakthrough season was interrupted by the injury in July, right before he could appear in his first All-Star Game.
Houston rookie Jose Urquidy (1-1, 4.63 ERA) makes his case for a postseason rotation spot when he faces Angels rookie Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 5.25 ERA), who is down to his final chance to earn his first major league victory in his hometown ballpark.
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