ARLINGTON, Texas — Elvis Andrus and the Texas Rangers didn't even wait around to see if they would clinch the AL West title Friday night. The champagne was put away for another day.
After a 2-1 loss to the wild card-chasing Los Angeles Angels, when Mike Trout had a leadoff triple in the ninth and scored on Albert Pujols' tiebreaking single, the Rangers needed a later loss by Houston for the division title.
"Turn the page, come back tomorrow and be aggressive," Andrus said before leaving the clubhouse. "(Saturday) is a great day to do it."
By time the scheduled postgame fireworks show was over, after most of the Rangers players had already left the ballpark, Houston already led 7-2 in the sixth inning at Arizona. The Astros went on to win 21-5 and moved within two games of Texas.
"We've got two games left and we're going to continue to play hard," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "These guys have done a tremendous job of responding to situations like this."
Already assured a playoff spot, Texas could have also clinched the division Friday night with a win over the Angels.
Los Angeles remained a game behind Houston in the race for the second AL wild card. But the Angels now have a one-game lead over Minnesota, which lost at home to AL Central champion Kansas City.
"We're worried about our house. We need to win," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
With Saturday's game set for noon local time, the Rangers quickly cleared the clubhouse Friday night instead of waiting around to watch the Astros. It was after 12:30 a.m. Saturday in Texas when the game in Arizona ended.
Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson (6-4) appeared in his fourth consecutive game. Trout hit the 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," Sciosia said. "We need to get everybody swinging, but particularly Mike."
The Angels have won eight of their last 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 batter since a foot injury Sept. 17 before taking over in the ninth.
Shin-Soo Choo matched his career high with his 22nd homer leading off the Texas fourth to tie the game at 1.
He also had a nice defensive play, catching Trout's slicing fly while running into the right-field corner to start the sixth.
Erick Aybar singled on the first pitch of the game, advancing on Pujols' single before scoring on C.J. Cron's hit for a 1-0 lead off Rangers left-hander Martin Perez.
But Perez then retired 19 of the last 21 batters he faced, issuing a two-out walk to Trout in the third and allowing a two-out single to Aybar in the fifth. Perez's 100th and final pitch was a groundout by Carlos Perez to end the seventh.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Angels were 2 for 2 on replay challenges, with safe calls overturned to outs in the first two innings. After DeShields walked and stole second base in the first, he tried also to steal third. Replay showed third baseman David Freese tagged DeShields' helmet on the headfirst slide before his extended hand got to the bag. Andrus thought he had an infield hit in the second. First baseman Cron made a nice stab, got up and hesitated briefly before sliding into the bag, just beating Andrus.
Angels: Scioscia said right-handed reliever Huston Street, a week after a groin injury, was starting to "activate his arm" this weekend but clearly wouldn't be available to pitch. As for the playoffs if the Angels make it, "We'll see how he feels in the next week," Scioscia said.
Rangers: DeShields said his left knee still gets tight at times, but other than that he is "close to 100 percent." He had a mild sprain in his knee Sept. 7 and missed three games. He's missed only one since.
Angels: Still in position for a playoff spot, left-hander Hector Santiago (9-9) takes the mound for the Angels. He is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA in five starts this season against Texas.
Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis tries to increase his career high to 18 wins when he makes his 33rd start of the season. He has already thrown more than 200 innings. The only other times he did were 2010 and 2011, the seasons of the Rangers' only World Series appearances.