ANAHEIM, Calif.— Brad Peacock pitched six innings of three-hit ball and the Houston Astros lowered their magic number for clinching the AL West to three with a 5-2 victory over the second-place Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Yuli Gurriel had three hits and drove in a run for the Astros, who have a good chance to clinch a playoff spot and their first division title since 2001 at home this weekend against Seattle.
Peacock (11-2) had another strong start late in a season spent moving between the rotation and the bullpen, earning his first victory since Aug. 4.
Albert Pujols hit his 613th career homer in the ninth inning, breaking his tie with Jim Thome for seventh place in baseball history.
Luis Valbuena also hit his third homer in four games for the Angels (74-72), whose AL wild-card hopes are slipping. Their loss clinched a playoff spot for the surging Cleveland Indians.
Ricky Nolasco (6-14) yielded four hits and two runs over six solid innings, but the Angels have lost five of seven to fall three games behind Minnesota (77-69) for the second wild card.
Gurriel and Alex Bregman drove in runs in the second inning, and Marwin Gonzalez added a two-run double in the eighth as the Astros wrapped up a 10-game road trip with five victories and kept cruising toward October.
Peacock yielded Valbuena’s 21st homer in the fourth inning, but otherwise throttled the Los Angeles lineup that scored nine runs on Wednesday night.
Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Pujols’ 22nd homer of the season was a solo shot off Chris Devenski for his 96th RBI _ including 37 in his last 37 games. The slugger is four RBIs behind Eddie Murray’s 1,917 for eighth place in baseball history.
Astros: OF Jake Marisnick could be out for the season after breaking his right thumb while sliding headfirst into second base Wednesday night. Marisnick will need surgery and be out six to eight weeks. He is batting .243 with 16 homers and 35 RBIs in 106 games. Cameron Maybin, acquired off waivers from the Angels a few weeks ago, should play more in Marisnick’s absence.
Angels: RHP Keynan Middleton left after four pitches in the seventh inning due to nerve irritation in his right elbow. … Former closer Huston Street (rotator cuff strain) is throwing in simulated games in Arizona. He has appeared in only four games this year, but he wants to return to the majors before the season ends.
Astros: Charlie Morton (11-7, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound in the opener of final homestand of the regular season against the Seattle Mariners.
Angels: The bullpen will make a group start in place of Andrew Heaney, whose injured shoulder is forcing him to miss a start. Manager Mike Scioscia hasn’t announced which reliever will go first. Heaney participated in drills Wednesday, but isn’t ready to return.