ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Elvis Andrus remained on the ground with his face in the dirt after sliding past second base and being tagged for the final out.
The playoff-bound Texas Rangers again were denied a chance to clinch the AL West title Saturday, blowing a four-run lead in the ninth inning of an 11-10 loss to the wild card-chasing Los Angeles Angels.
“It’s not over. … It’s thoroughly disappointing what just transpired,” Rangers starter Colby Lewis said. “We’ve come this far. We’re not going to let anything else get us down.”
Going into Sunday, the last scheduled day of the regular season, Texas (87-74) led the division by only a game over Houston. The Astros won at Arizona late Saturday night.
The Rangers can clinch their first division title since 2011 with a win Sunday, or a loss by Houston.
If the Rangers and Astros are tied after 162 games, they would play Monday in Arlington to determine which wins the division and which plays the New York Yankees in the wild-card game Tuesday night.
The Angels, a game behind Houston for the AL’s second wild card, trailed 10-6 before consecutive homers by Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun off Shawn Tolleson, the Texas closer pitching for the fifth straight day.
Ross Ohlendorf (3-1) relieved and retired Mike Trout out on a grounder, then gave up Albert Pujols’ double on a difficult popup to short right that ricocheted off first baseman Mike Napoli’s glove, whose back was to the plate.
C.J. Cron, David Freese, Carlos Perez and Giavotella had consecutive two-out singles, with Cron, Perez and Giavotella driving in runs. Before Perez singled on a 2-2 pitch, Texas was one strike from clinching the division.
“I trust that we bounce back, just like we’ve bounced back all year long,” first-year Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I feel confident.”
The Rangers have lost consecutive games since their 5-3 victory in the series opener Thursday night that guaranteed them a playoff spot.
Andrus singled off Joe Smith with two outs in the bottom half, then was caught stealing second by Perez when he overslid the base and Aybar applied the tag, a call upheld on video review.
Texas led 10-6 in the seventh when former Angel Josh Hamilton hit his second homer of the game and Rougned Odor homered two batters later.
“A fun game to be a part of, a tough game to be on the losing end of,” Hamilton said. “They did a good job of not giving up, not quitting. We didn’t think they would. … It was a tough one.”
It was the Angels’ first win when trailing by four runs or more in the ninth inning since July 6, 2013, when they won 9-7 in 11 innings at Boston, according to STATS.
“The best games usually are a little sloppy. That’s kind of what makes them great,” Freese said. “We never quit, and that’s why we’re in it to the last day.”
Jo-Jo Reyes (1-0) threw one pitch in his first major league outing since Sept. 20, 2011, for Baltimore, retiring Prince Fielder on a liner to end the eighth.
Tolleson, who has all 35 of his saves since May 20, had thrown 63 pitches in the previous four games; in the ninth inning on Friday night he gave up a leadoff triple to Trout and Pujols’ go-ahead single in the Angels’ 2-1 win.
Tolleson was the first Texas reliever used five days in a row since Tanner Scheppers from Sept. 26-30, 2013.
“I thought we had a four-run lead and a guy in the game that had been so good for us,” Banister said. “You could tell early on it was going to be a challenge for him so we decided to make the move and get Ohlendorf in there.”
Angels: Garrett Richards (15-11) will pitch on three days’ rest in place of Nick Tropeano.
Rangers: Texas has won the last nine starts by Cole Hamels, the left-hander acquired at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Hamels is 6-0 with a 3.39 in those starts.
LOT OF PITCHERS
The 18 pitchers set an AL record for a nine-inning game and matched the big league mark set Sept. 30, 2007, by St. Louis (10) and Pittsburgh (eight).
Both starting pitchers gave up five runs and left in the fifth without recording an out. Angels lefty-hander Hector Santiago had gone 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five previous starts against Texas this season, and the All-Star lefty was 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 16 previous starts vs. AL West teams. Lewis has a career-high 17 wins this season, and is the Rangers’ most successful postseason pitcher (4-1, 2.34 ERA in eight such starts).
Angels: Giavotella went down briefly, but stayed in the game after Odor’s hard late slide on which his foot went into the second baseman’s shin in the fifth inning.
Rangers: Texas is still being careful with reliever Keone Kela (tender right elbow). Over his last 18 appearances, he has 21 strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a run in 16 1-3 innings.