Meltdown In Ninth Causes Another Loss
Astros Fall 2-1/2 Back In Playoff Hunt

Correa: Sees slipping season
(c) Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle
If the Astros fall one game short of the playoffs this year, they may look back on this game as the turning point. Nursing a two-run lead going into the top of the ninth Friday against the Angels, Ken Giles coughed up a six-run hairball to lose, 10-6, and drop further back in the wild card chase.

The Rangers clinched the playoffs and the Mariners moved into second with the defeat. Baltimore, Seattle and Houston are trying to overtake Toronto or Detroit for the final wild card spot.

Trailing 3-1 in the sixth, the Astros exploded for five runs and appeared close to taming the Halos for the 12th time in 14 games but Luke Gregerson gave up a run in the eighth to make it 6-4 then Giles, acquired at heavy cost last winter to be the closer the Astros lacked, entered to salt the game away.

Instead, Yunel Escobar lofted a two-run homer into the Crawfords to tie the score at six. Mike Trout walked one out later then stole second. Albert Pujols was intentionally walked. C.J. Cron singled to center which gave Anaheim the lead.

After a wild pitch, Andrelton Simmons walked and Michael Feliz replaced Giles. After Feliz fanned Nick Buss, Rafael Ortega blooped a ball to shallow center that Carlos Correa couldn't quite reach which cleared the bases for a 10-6 lead.

Anaheim starter Alex Meyer filled the bases back in the sixth before giving way to Deolis Guerra. Marwin Gonzalez spanked a two-run single to tie the game at three. Pinch-hitter Tyler White singled for the go-ahead run. Gonzalez scored when Cron misplayed Jason Castro's bouncer to first and a sixth run came home on a passed ball.

Game Three of this four-game debacle comes Saturday night at 6:10 Central. Brad Peacock (0-0) will get the starting assignment for the Astros against Venezuelan righthander Jhoulys Chacin (5-8).

- Bob Hulsey