Sep 20, 7:09 PM EDT

Angels head to Houston 2 1/2 games behind for wild card

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels head to Houston for a pivotal series with the hope of replicating this weekend's results in Minnesota.

Matt Shoemaker allowed four runs over 3 2-3 innings in his return to the mound, but Los Angeles couldn't get much going offensively against Twins rookie Tyler Duffey in an 8-1 loss on Sunday.

Still, the Angels won three of four from Minnesota. Los Angeles and the Twins are tied at 76-73 and are 2 1/2 games behind Houston for the AL's second wild card.

"Seems like we've been here for a month," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But I think some of the things that showed up on the field here against the Twins, we've got to bring with us tomorrow and keep going all the way through the season. There's some things that were good to see."

Los Angeles had scored 20 runs in winning the first three games of the series, but just five batters reached base against Duffey.

He allowed three hits in seven shutout innings, and Minnesota pulled even with the Angels in the wild card standings as Eddie Rosario and Joe Mauer hit two-run homers.

A day after the Angels swept a day-night doubleheader to pass the Twins in the wild-card standings, Duffey (4-1) struck out seven and walked one to stop Minnesota's five-game losing streak. Torii Hunter put the Twins ahead with a solo homer in the second off Shoemaker (7-10), who made his first start since Sept. 1 after being sidelined by forearm tightness.

"We win today, we're obviously in a better position; a four-game sweep on top of that," Shoemaker said. "So, it kind of makes me frustrated and angry but it's this game. Taking three out of four is huge."

Hunter led off the second with his 21st homer, and Rosario's homered boosted the lead to 3-0 in the third. Aaron Hicks's RBI single in the fourth chased Shoemaker, who gave up six hits and two walks. Shoemaker allowed just one run over his previous two starts.

Cam Bedrosian and Cory Rasmus each forced in runs with bases-loaded walks in the fifth, and Mauer hit his ninth homer in the eighth, a 419-foot drive against Wesley Wright.

"Every game you've got to build momentum," Scioscia said. "You've got to get a lead, get it on your terms and finish it off, and we didn't do that today. So, we'll try to get back at it tomorrow."


The Angels were scoreless until the ninth when rookie catcher Jett Bandy made a pinch-hitting appearance with two outs. Bandy hit a home run off of Minnesota's All-Star closer Glen Perkins for his first big league hit.

"I'll never forget anything about the moment," Bandy said. "I'll try to cherish it as much as possible and it was just real fun. Great time, still kind of high off of it right now, it's pretty cool."

Bandy will hope to cherish the ball he hit off Perkins, but teammates were apparently playing tricks with the rookie. Bandy spent part of the postgame in the locker room trying to track down the ball.

"I think one of us has it," Bandy said. "They gave me one ball, but I don't think it's the right ball. They're trying to play with me."


Angels: Scioscia said INF Johnny Giavotella, who is dealing with a medical condition affecting his vision, would head to Arizona on Sunday to begin working with the team's instructional league staff. Scioscia hoped Giavotella would hit against a pitcher by Wednesday. ... Scioscia said it was still too early to tell the extent of RHP Joe Smith's sprained ankle. Smith tripped at the team hotel on Saturday.


Angels: Los Angeles starts RHP Jered Weaver (7-11) in Monday's series opener, where he faces LHP Dallas Keuchel.

Twins: Minnesota has a day off before RHP Ervin Santana (5-4) opens a three-game series against Cleveland. Santana is 3-10 against the Indians.

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