ANAHEIM, California — Taylor Featherston's first game-ending hit in the majors came against his hometown team in the heat of a pennant race.
The rookie third baseman poked an RBI single over first base with two outs in the 13th inning to give the Los Angeles Angels a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday. It was his first hit in 22 career at-bats at Angel Stadium.
"You see it all the time on TV growing up," Featherston said of his postgame Gatorade shower. "We've had a couple this year, and I felt that sooner or later, my time would come. That's what it's all about — getting it done with the game on the line. Going into an off-day with a series win is huge."
Erick Aybar greeted Joe Thatcher (1-2) with a leadoff single, advanced on Daniel Robertson's sacrifice and went to third on Efren Navarro's groundout. Chad Qualls walked Chris Iannetta before Featherston came through in the rubber game of the three-game series to help the Angels climb within 4 1/2 games of the AL West-leading Astros.
"It was a slider. I saw that he was throwing Iannetta a bunch of them," Featherston said. "After he threw me the first one and I swung through it, I thought he probably was going to come back to it again — and I got enough of it."
Surprise starter Andrew Heaney pitched well in his Angels debut, locking horns with Lance McCullers in a matchup of touted young arms selected in the first round of the 2012 draft.
"Those are two really good young pitchers and they both pitched great today," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "McCullers was very effective and he had all his pitches working. Heaney was throwing a ton of strikes early. We put a lot of balls in play, but didn't have a lot of baserunners."
Jose Alvarez (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Joe Smith, working his second inning of relief for the Angels, did not retire any of the three batters he faced in the ninth. Preston Tucker led off with a single, but pinch-runner George Springer was picked off before the next pitch. Evan Gattis tried to stretch a single to left field into a double and was thrown out by Robertson.
Another Astros pinch-runner was cut down in the 10th when Marwin Gonzalez was thrown out trying to steal second.
"They were aggressive mistakes," Hinch said.
Robertson entered in the eighth as a pinch-hitter for Matt Joyce and singled with one out against Tony Sipp. Robertson made it to third on Iannetta's two-out single, but Pat Neshek came in and struck out pinch-hitter David Freese.
Heaney allowed a run and four hits over six innings with five strikeouts and an intentional walk in his sixth major league start. The 24-year-old lefty was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake after struggling right-hander Matt Shoemaker was pushed back two days in the rotation to get some extra work in.
Heaney was 0-3 with a 6.93 ERA in five starts last season with Miami.
"I didn't pitch well there and I didn't do the little things that would put up zeros and help win ballgames. That's something I'm trying to change here," Heaney said.
The Angels acquired Heaney in December from the Dodgers for second baseman Howie Kendrick — the same day the Dodgers got the veteran second baseman from the Marlins in a multiplayer deal that sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami.
"It was the first time I'd been traded — and then to get flipped like that was a little different," Heaney said with a grin. "I'd already been traded once that day, so what's another time? I'm just glad I ended up here."
McCullers also allowed a run and four hits through six innings, striking out six and walking three in his eighth big league start. He lowered his ERA to 2.33.
McCullers had at least one runner on base in every inning. Albert Pujols drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and scored on Iannetta's bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
Houston tied it in the sixth when Jose Altuve walked with one out, stole his AL-leading 18th base and scored when rookie Carlos Correa doubled to left field over Joyce's head on a 2-0 pitch.
ON TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Astros RHP Mark Appel, the top pick in the 2013 draft, was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi to Triple-A Fresno after going 5-1 with a 4.26 ERA.
Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-3) pitches Thursday night in the opener of a four-game home series against the New York Yankees. Keuchel is 3-3 with a 2.90 ERA over his last seven starts after going 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his first nine.
Angels: Shoemaker is scheduled to start on six days' rest Friday night in the opener of a three-game set at home against Seattle. He was given extra time to work on fastball command. Shoemaker has a 5.20 ERA in 13 starts after setting a franchise rookie record last season with 16 wins. In five career starts against the Mariners, he is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA.