HOUSTON (AP) — Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Ricky Nolasco pitched seven solid innings, helping the Los Angeles Angels hinder the Houston Astros wild-card hopes with a 2-0 victory Thursday night.
The Angels ended an 11-game skid and pushed Houston 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers for the second AL wild card.
Pujols homered into the Crawford Boxes in left field, helping Los Angeles move to 2-11 against the Astros this season.
Nolasco (7-14) gave up five singles and struck out five. He did not allow a baserunner past second. Nolasco had a second straight scoreless start after throwing six shutout innings Saturday against Toronto.
JC Ramirez pitched the eighth before Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Mike Fiers (11-8) allowed two runs and four hits with a season-high nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander sent down 13 straight at one point. Fiers had his second straight strong outing after throwing six scoreless innings Saturday in Seattle.
Jose Altuve had three hits for Houston, which grounded into three double plays.
Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (left forearm tightness) played catch and will throw some bullpens in the coming week, manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s symptom free, but we are going to obviously be very conservative where his treatment is now to make sure that this doesn’t re-occur or turn into anything bigger,” Scioscia said. “Right now he feels great.”
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers, who has been out since Aug. 2 with a mild right elbow strain, threw a full bullpen Thursday. McCullers was pain free and will have another bullpen in a few days, manager A.J. Hinch said.
Houston Astros TV play-by-play announcer Bill Brown will retire this month. The 69-year-old Brown’s final scheduled broadcast will be the last regular season home game, Sept. 28 against the Mariners. Brown started with the Astros in 1987 and has called games for them for nearly 30 years.
Angels: RHP Alex Meyer (1-3, 5.63) will make his fifth start of the season and fourth for the Angels on Friday. Meyer earned his first career win in his last start Sunday, tossing five shutout innings against Toronto.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (12-12, 4.45) will make his 31st start of the season Friday, looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Fister allowed seven runs in less than four innings Sunday at Seattle.
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