ANAHEIM — Albert Pujols had an RBI double among his three hits, Erick Aybar drove in three runs and the Los Angeles Angels kept the AL playoff race tight for yet another day with their seventh consecutive victory, 8-1 over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles began the day a half-game out of the second AL wild-card spot behind the Houston Astros, who were still playing at Seattle.
Nick Tropeano (3-2) struck out 11 during 6 2-3 innings of three-hit ball for the Angels (83-74), who have matched their longest streak of the season while winning 10 of 12 overall.
The Angels remained two games behind the AL West-leading Texas Rangers (85-72), who beat Detroit. The Minnesota Twins (81-75) were rained out in Cleveland, dropping them 1 1-2 games behind Los Angeles in the wild-card race.
With four games in Texas to close the season, the Angels are in control of their playoff destiny after chasing down the leaders during their majors-best 18-8 run in September.
Max Muncy homered for the last-place A’s, who have lost four straight and nine of 10.
Aybar had a two-run triple during a four-run rally in the fourth inning, and David Freese had two RBI singles in a rare comfortable victory for the Angels. Los Angeles won by more than one run for just the second time during its winning streak.
Tropeano was outstanding in a big moment for a fill-in starter who has provided depth in the Angels’ rotation all season long. He nearly doubled his previous career high in strikeouts and left to a standing ovation from the Big A crowd.
Chris Bassitt (1-8) yielded eight hits and six runs before getting chased in the fourth for Oakland.
Mike Trout and Pujols had back-to-back doubles in the first inning, with Trout scoring his 100th run of the season. The 24-year-old AL MVP is the first player in Angels history to score 100 runs in four separate seasons.
Tropeano hit a new career high in strikeouts in the third inning, fanning seven of nine Oakland batters in an early stretch.
Pujols keyed the Angels’ fourth-inning rally with a leadoff infield single and a stolen base, running impressively on a sore foot that has limited him to designated-hitting duties for weeks. Los Angeles got all four RBIs with two outs, including Johnny Giavotella’s run-scoring double and Aybar’s triple, which chased Bassitt.
Pujols singled again in the fifth for just his third three-hit game since June 9.
Mat Latos made his Angels debut in the eighth, yielding two hits over two scoreless innings. The Angels signed the veteran right-hander Monday after his tumultuous tenure up the I-5 freeway with the Dodgers ended with his release.
Athletics: Drew Pomeranz won’t pitch again this season due to a sore shoulder.
Angels: Joe Smith believes he could be available in the bullpen Wednesday. He sprained his ankle earlier this month on a hotel staircase.
Athletics: Barry Zito (0-0, 18.00 ERA) makes the second start of his A’s return after giving up four runs in two innings last week against San Francisco.
Angels: Garrett Richards (15-11, 3.73) returns to the mound after beating Seattle in the homestand opener. He is willing to pitch again Sunday if the game determines Los Angeles’ playoff fate.