Angels bullpen provides relief in win over Astros

Luke Bard anchored a strong bullpen performance and the visiting Los Angeles Angels made an early lead stand up in their 8-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Bard (3-2) worked two perfect innings against the heart of the Houston lineup as five Angels relievers covered the final 18 outs and denied the Astros (101-54) a chance to clinch their third consecutive American League West title. Houston will have to wait until the series finale Sunday after the Angels (70-85) won for just the second time in their last 13 games at Minute Maid Park.

The Angels pounced on Astros left-hander Wade Miley (14-6) for three runs in the first inning, starting with a leadoff home run by second baseman David Fletcher. Andrelton Simmons followed with a walk and scored on Kevan Smith's RBI groundout. When Taylor Ward tacked on a run-scoring single that plated Kole Calhoun, the Angels led 3-0.

Miley, who twice failed to escape the first inning in two starts earlier this month, did not record an out in the second, departing after walking Michael Hermosillo and Kaleb Cowart singled just prior to Fletcher's second at-bat. Miley was charged with four runs on four hits and one walk, throwing into doubt his role on the Astros' postseason roster.

Trailing 4-0, the Astros responded with three runs in the bottom of the second, keyed by an opposite-field homer by Yordan Alvarez, his 27th. Houston pushed Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval against the ropes later in the inning, but a fan interference call shifted momentum after a Kyle Tucker two-run double to left was ruled an RBI single that sent Carlos Correa back to third base.

Correa subsequently scored but Tucker, who was standing on third base before the ruling, was stranded there as the tying run. The Astros never pulled even, with Albert Pujols and Simmons delivered run-scoring hits in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively, to keep the Astros at bay. Calhoun added a two-run homer in the ninth, his 33rd, off Hector Rondon to seal the victory.

Houston finished finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

--Field Level Media