Astros' AL West title delayed with 8-4 loss to Angels

Los Angeles Angels' Michael Hermosillo (21) slides past Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado to score a run on Andrelton Simmons' single during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Los Angeles Angels' Andrelton Simmons, left, and Kole Calhoun celebrate the team's win over the Houston Astros in a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, top, leaps to avoid Houston Astros' Alex Bregman during a double play attempt during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. Yordan Alvarez was out at first. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Hansel Robles, right, shakes hands with catcher Kevan Smith following the team's win over the Houston Astros in a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Wade Miley, right, is removed from the game by manager AJ Hinch (14) during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Los Angeles Angels' David Fletcher watches his bloop RBI single during the second inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON — Astros starter Wade Miley couldn't break out of his recent rut on Saturday night and Houston's magic number remained stuck at one.

The Astros remained just shy of their third straight AL West title, wasting a chance to clinch when Miley was hit hard in an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels that ended a six-game winning streak.

Houston (101-54) needs just one more win to ensure first place. The Astros also would clinch with a loss by second-place Oakland. The A's routed Texas 12-3 later Saturday.

Miley (14-6) allowed four runs and four hits while getting just three outs and leaving with two on in the second. He is 1-2 in his last four starts, allowing 18 runs in 7 1/3 innings as his ERA rose from 3.06 to 3.91.

"I'm not doing my part, I'm not getting the job done, and I'm not giving us a chance," Miley said. "It's tough to swallow, but at the same time, I've been through this, and I've got to keep working and try to get through it."

David Fletcher took called strikes on Miley's first two pitches, then sent the third into the left-field seats. Los Angeles made it 3-0 on Kevan Smith's RBI grounder and Taylor Ward's RBI single.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he has been concerned by the stretch of rough starts for Miley and his recent inability to escape early innings. Miley said he has been reviewing film and doesn't believe he's tipping pitches but thinks hitters are picking up his pitches better out of his hand than earlier in the season.

"We're going to figure it out and he's going to be really effective for us," Hinch said. "But given the time, it's a difficult time to assess because he's got one start left before we've got to make some decisions, but we'd obviously like to get him in a better frame of mind."

Miley said he hopes to find an answer in his last regular season start, likely also against the Angels on Thursday.

"I've got to gain some trust back, prove that I can get outs in the big leagues and prove that I can give this team a chance to win," Miley said. "This has been frustrating for me, it's obviously frustrating for the team, and it's nothing I want to be a part of."

Miley hit Michael Hermosillo leading off the second and allowed a single to Kaleb Cowart, and David Fletcher greeted Jose Urquidy with a run-scoring single.

Houston closed to 4-3 in the bottom half on Yordan Alvarez's 27th homer of the season, Kyle Tucker's RBI double and Martín Maldonado's run-scoring grounder.

Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in the fourth and Andrelton Simmons made it 6-3 with an RBI single in the sixth. Kole Calhoun hit his 33rd homer in the ninth, a two-run drive against Héctor Rondón.

Luke Bard (3-2) struck out three in two scoreless innings to win in relief of Patrick Sandoval, who lasted three innings.

"I hope we do it again," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said on delaying Houston's celebrations. "I hope we do it again then I hope we do it again against Oakland."


Angels radio broadcaster Mark Langston is resting comfortably and is undergoing tests at a hospital in Houston, the Angels announced Saturday, after Langston had a medical emergency at Friday night's game and had to be taken to the hospital. The Angels said the 57-year-old Langston, who pitched 16 years and was a four-time All-Star, was awake and alert.


Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez reached base safely in his 25th straight game with his solo homer in the second. His 27 home runs tied for the fourth-most in a player's first 81 career MLB games, matching Pete Alonso and trailing only Rudy York (30 in 1937), Jose Abreu (29 in 2014) and Cody Bellinger (28 in 2017). His 50th extra-base hit through 81 games matched Abreu and trailed only Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Bob Meusel.


"We just need the fan to stay out of the way. The play is inside the fence line. I know it's enticing and everybody wants a souvenir, but it was tough that that play happened and the inning kind of changed a little bit." -- Hinch on the fan interference call that brought back a run.


Angels: 2B Tommy La Stella ran bases pregame and could possibly return to playing in the final week of the season. He has been out since early July with a right tibia fracture. ... C Max Stassi (oblique) saw a specialist in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday to see whether his injury will require surgery but the team had yet to receive an update, Ausmus said.

Astros: INF Yuli Gurriel was 1 for 3 after missing Friday's game with a stomach ailment. . SS Carlos Correa was taken out of the game after the sixth inning as part of his return from a lengthy absence with various injuries. Hinch said he was fine.


Angels: RHP José Rodríguez (0-0, 1.84 ERA) will make his first career big league on Sunday, opening for LHP José Suarez (2-6, 7.42 ERA).

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (19-6, 2.50 ERA) starts Sunday and can become the season's first 20-game winner. He is 11 strikeouts shy of 3,000.


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