ARLINGTON, Texas – With Mike Trout and Albert Pujols leading the way, the Los Angeles Angels are still in the chase for a playoff spot.
Trout hit a leadoff triple in the ninth inning and scored on Pujols' tiebreaking single for a 2-1 victory Friday night in Texas, keeping the Rangers from clinching the AL West title that Los Angeles won last season.
"We can't lose anymore. Plain and simple," Trout said. "We've got to fight to the end. We're going to down fighting, try to get to the postseason."
Already assured a playoff spot, the Rangers could have won the division with a win over the Angels on Friday night, or a loss by the Astros.
But the champagne was put back on ice and the Rangers didn't even wait around to see what happened with the Astros playing in Arizona. Especially with their game Saturday set for noon local time.
By the time the postgame fireworks show was over, most of the Rangers players already had left the ballpark.
"Turn the page, come back tomorrow and be aggressive," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said.
Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson (6-4) appeared in his fourth consecutive game and took the loss. Trout hit his second pitch deep into the right-center gap, then slid headfirst into third base before emphatically pumping his right arm toward his teammates in the dugout.
"He did a good job of staying back and going the other way," Tolleson said. "They asked me how I felt today, and I told them I felt really good. And I did."
Pujols followed with a soft single to left field on the next pitch.
"Anytime Mike's swinging the bat for us, it's important," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We need to get everybody swinging, but particularly Mike."
The Angels have won eight of their past 10 games, but their 5-3 loss Thursday in the opener of the four-game series assured Texas a playoff spot.
Mike Morin (4-2), the fourth Angels pitcher, retired the only batter he faced when Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the eighth.
Joe Smith worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save, including a strikeout of slugger Josh Hamilton, who was traded from Los Angeles back to Texas in April. Smith had faced only one batter since a foot injury Sept. 17 before taking over in the ninth.
The Angels' Jered Weaver, making his 20th career start at Texas, allowed two hits over six innings.
"When you're throwing up the stuff that I'm throwing up with this lineup and this ballpark, it was nice to be able to limit the damage and keep us in it," Weaver said.
Shin-Soo Choo matched his career high with his 22nd homer leading off the Texas fourth to tie the game at 1-1.