Cron's tiebreaking HR in 8th helps Angels beat Astros 3-2

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) C.J. Cron hit a tiebreaking home run to lead off the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Houston Astros 3-2 Saturday night to tighten the American League West race.

Cron greeted Will Harris (5-3) with a drive to center field on a 1-1 pitch for his career-high 12th homer. Joe Smith (5-5) pitched a scoreless eighth and Huston Street worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 35th save in 39 attempts as Los Angeles pulled to 3 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West.

Angels starter Hector Santiago allowed two runs and five hits through seven innings. He had a 2-0 lead and a three-hitter going through five innings, but the Astros tied it with Carlos Correa's 18th homer in the sixth and former Angel Hank Conger's 11th of the season in the seventh.

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Correa cleared the double-decker bullpen in left field with a drive that was estimated to have traveled 469 feet. It came on a full count after a 12-pitch at-bat.

Conger's homer cleared the tall trees behind the center-field fence, and was his first in 22 at-bats against the Angels' since he was traded to the Astros in November 2014 for catcher Carlos Perez and pitcher Nick Tropeano.

Astros right-hander Lance McCullers allowed two runs and seven hits through five innings. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and was pulled after 100 pitches.

McCullers' only victory in his last nine starts was a 6-3 decision over the Angels on July 29 at Minute Maid Park. He remained 0-5 with a 5.22 ERA in eight road starts since beating Detroit 3-2 on May 23.

McCullers, who has allowed just five home runs in 101 2/3 innings this season, more than held his own against a club that has gotten a combined 92 home runs by the first three players in the batting order - Kole Calhoun (23), Mike Trout (34) and Albert Pujols (35).

The Angels grabbed the lead in the second when David Freese got an RBI single and Erick Aybar scored on a slow-bouncing grounder to third by Perez.

Freese is (14 for 36) with five RBIs in 10 games since returning from the disabled list. He was batting .213 when a pitch by Minnesota's Mike Pelfrey fractured his right index finger on July 22 and sidelined him for 36 games.

The Angels threatened in the fifth with a one-out walk to Trout and a ground-rule double by Pujols, which edged him past Wade Boggs into 20th place on the career doubles list and put him within seven of Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time list for extra-base hits.

But McCullers escaped the jam, retiring David Murphy on a fly ball to shallow left field and Erick Aybar on another fly to left with the bases loaded after a walk to Cron.

Freese led off the sixth with a grounder to shortstop, but was safe when Correa's throw pulled Marwin Gonzalez off the bag for an error. Left fielder Jake Marisnick fell down going for Perez's line drive, but recovered in time to make a lunging grab over his shoulder. Taylor Featherston then grounded into a double play.


Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (2-1) is making his third start since his no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 21.

Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (6-3) hasn't faced the Astros since his Angels debut on June 24, when he allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at home.