Angels-Astros Preview

The Los Angeles Angels are clinging to the hope of catching the Houston Astros for the AL's final postseason spot - much like they held on to their latest win.

A tight victory over the Astros helped Tuesday, but a series win Wednesday would do wonders for the Angels' chances in the final two weeks of the season.

Los Angeles (77-74) snapped a two-game skid with a 4-3 victory in the middle game of the series at Minute Maid Park, clawing to within 2 1/2 games of Houston (80-72) for the second wild card with Minnesota (77-73) also in the mix.

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''We know how important wins are now,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''But right now if we keep playing well ... we can stay close enough, keep pressuring them.''

Meanwhile, the Astros have fallen two back of AL West-leading Texas. Houston had lost 12 of 16 to start September but steadied with three straight victories before Tuesday's loss.

"We're not a perfect team," manager A.J. Hinch told MLB's official website. "We still make mistakes. But we're a pretty good baseball team."

The Astros will try to get back to their winning ways with a pitcher who has dominated at home since arriving at the trade deadline.

Mike Fiers (2-1, 3.06 ERA) has allowed just 10 hits with an ERA of 0.89 in three starts at Minute Maid Park, the middle one a no-hitter last month against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander has secured a spot in Houston's rotation by allowing just 11 earned runs in his last seven starts.

He's faced the Angels just once in his five-year career, but they are still fresh in his memory from Sept. 13. Fiers held the Angels to three solo homers in seven innings of a 5-3 victory.

Mike Trout hit one of those, the start of a 10-game stretch in which he's gone deep six times. The latest was his 40th of the season in Tuesday's win, making him the second player in Angels history to reach that mark. Troy Glaus hit 47 homers in 2000 and 41 in 2001.

''It's obviously special to reach 40,'' Trout said. ''Coming into this season, thinking it would be pretty special and pretty cool and it happened.''

Albert Pujols added his 36th home run, his first since Sept. 2. The first-inning solo shot was Pujols' fifth this season and 50th of his career against the Astros, the most by any player.

Nick Tropeano will make just his second career start at Minute Maid despite pitching with the Astros during his 2014 rookie season. Tropeano (2-2, 5.06) went 1-3 in four starts for the Astros last year, including a loss in his only home outing.

A 21-inning doubleheader Saturday and short outings from Matt Shoemaker, Jered Weaver and Hector Santiago in the next three games opened the door for Tropeano to pitch the finale.

He will make his sixth start of the season and third this month since his promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake. The right-hander picked up his first win since April while filling in for an injured Shoemaker on Sept. 15, allowing two runs in five innings of a 4-3 victory against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.