ANAHEIM, California — The Houston Astros were down three runs and down to their final out. Preston Tucker was down to his last strike, with nobody on base and dominant Angels closer Huston Street on the mound.
With fans chanting "Sweep! Sweep!" Tucker hit a fastball into the stands.
Four batters later, Jed Lowrie also circled the bases in ecstatic disbelief.
"It's about as dramatic of a momentum shift or comeback as you're going to see," Lowrie said. "But what's made this team great all year is that we've literally fought to the last pitch."
Lowrie delivered a pinch-hit, three-run homer to complete an astounding five-run rally off Street with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Astros stunned the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 Sunday in a win that could be a defining moment in their breakthrough season.
"That was an incredible, resilient effort," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "I love September."
Tucker started the rally with a two-strike solo homer for the Astros, who got five consecutive hits off Street (3-3), the AL saves leader.
"I figured, 'Hey, why don't we get something started? We've got the team to do it,'" said Tucker, who had just one at-bat in the previous five games. "And we did just that. It was awesome. After I hit that home run, everyone realized we could get something going."
George Springer put a triple just beyond the reach of diving right fielder Kole Calhoun, and he scored on Jose Altuve's bloop single. Carlos Correa followed with an infield single when his hard-hit grounder became lodged in the webbing of Taylor Featherston's glove, something that had never happened to the second baseman before.
"I couldn't throw my glove all the way to first base," Featherston said.
Lowrie then hit a hanging changeup into the short right-field corner, and Calhoun appeared to be inches away from making the catch. Calhoun reached into the crowd and came up empty.
Street blew his fifth save of the season, allowing a career-high five runs.
"I was pretty frustrated afterward, more in disbelief," Street said. "It's a brutal loss in the way it happened, obviously, trying to go for the sweep and what it does to the standings. The changeup to Lowrie was a bad pitch, probably the only bad pitch in the entire inning."
Chad Qualls (2-4) got two outs in the eighth for Houston, and Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth for his 27th save while the Angel Stadium crowd watched in numb silence.
With their improbable ninth inning, the Astros (77-66) won for just the second time in the first six games of their 10-game road trip, which concludes at Texas (75-67). The second-place Rangers are 1 ½ games behind Houston, while the Angels (72-70) dropped three games behind Texas for the second wild-card spot.
The Angels were one strike away from wrapping up a nine-game homestand with their fourth straight win and their eighth in 11 games in September.
C.J. Cron hit two homers and Mike Trout also connected for the third-place Angels, who got agonizingly close to turning the AL West into a real three-team race.
Mike Fiers had eight strikeouts in seven innings of six-hit ball for the Astros, giving up Trout's 35th homer in the first inning. He watched the comeback from the weight room.
Andrew Heaney allowed a baserunner in each of his five scoreless innings, but the Angels rookie stranded nine runners.
GAME OF CRONS
Cron hit a tiebreaking homer in the Angels' 3-2 victory on Saturday night, and the slugger connected in the second and seventh innings Sunday. Cron would have come up again for the Angels in the ninth, but manager Mike Scioscia had already pulled him for defensive replacement Efren Navarro, who struck out.
Astros: CF Carlos Gomez was scratched with a sore left side. He's heading home to see the team doctor, but will rejoin the Astros in Arlington.
Angels: Nick Tropeano will start Tuesday in Seattle because Matt Shoemaker isn't quite ready to return from right forearm tightness.
Astros: Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63 ERA) is up for the opener of that four-game series at Texas.
Angels: Garrett Richards (13-10, 3.71 ERA) takes the mound Monday when they open a 10-game road trip in Seattle.