The Houston Astros were heading toward their first series sweep in almost a year before a strange dispute stymied their momentum.
Mark Trumbo hit a two-run double in the eighth inning before Alberto Callaspo's go-ahead sacrifice fly sent the Angels to a 6-5 victory over the Astros in a long game that Los Angeles played under protest Thursday night.
The struggling Angels snapped a four-game skid and avoided an embarrassing sweep against last-place Houston, which has a payroll that's more than $100 million lower than Los Angeles' ledger.
The game took 4 hours, 7 minutes — making it the longest nine-inning contest in the majors this season, according to STATS. It was also the longest nine-inning game in Minute Maid Park history.
Houston hasn't swept a series since last May 21-23 against the Chicago Cubs.
The debate came with two outs in the seventh inning and Houston up 5-3 when Astros reliever Wesley Wright ran onto the mound and threw several warmup pitches before rookie manager Bo Porter raced onto the field between the mound and home plate to stop him from throwing more.
Hector Ambriz soon jogged out of the bullpen and onto the mound, and Wright headed to the dugout.
Scioscia ran onto the field and argued that Ambriz shouldn't be able to enter the game because Wright didn't face a batter. Scioscia remained on the field for several minutes while the umpires huddled and discussed the situation.
"My contention was that the pitcher came in, had to face one batter," Scioscia said. "I protested, and we're happy we won (the game)."
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth wouldn't say much about the situation.
"Well, the only thing I can tell you is that all matters concerning protests are handled through the league office," he said.
Pinch-hitter Luis Jimenez was in the on-deck circle when Wright went to the mound, but was replaced by Scott Cousins when Ambriz came on.
The umps eventually allowed Ambriz (0-2) to remain in the game. He retired Cousins to end the inning.
"Technically, Wesley came in to face the batter that was scheduled to hit, but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, which my understanding of the rule means you can now bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter," Porter said.
Scioscia lodged an official protest that he said became moot when the Angels rallied to win.
Wright seemed dazed by the turn of events.
"It's just a weird situation and a first for me," he said. "I really didn't know what to do in that situation. But it was just tough. Unfortunately we ended up losing the game and the game is going to be kind of like (an) asterisk by it because of everything that happened."
Josh Hamilton and Brendan Harris homered for the Angels, who have won just three of their last 12 road games.
Trumbo tied it at 5 with a bases-loaded double down the right-field line with nobody out in the eighth, chasing Ambriz. He was replaced by Travis Blackley, who intentionally walked Howie Kendrick with one out before Callaspo's sacrifice fly.
"I don't think the delay or anything affected Hector from a standpoint of his effectiveness," Porter said.
Garrett Richards (2-3) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win and Ernesto Frieri got five outs for his fifth save.
Houston had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but the Astros came up empty after Matt Dominguez struck out and pinch-hitter Carlos Pena grounded out.
Dominguez put Houston on top 5-3 in the sixth with a two-out, two-run single that chased starter Jason Vargas.
The left-hander, who was coming off consecutive complete games, yielded 10 hits and five runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Jose Altuve added three hits for Houston to raise his average to .345, and Chris Carter and Brandon Barnes each drove in a run for the Astros. Dominguez made three errors at third base after entering the game with one all season.