Astros swept by lowly Royals for 9th loss in 12 games
The Kansas City Royals defeated the Houston Astros 6-5 on Sunday to complete a three-game series sweep.
Houston is now 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers for top spot in the American League West.
The Astros' loss - their ninth over the last 12 games - also put the reigning World Series champions two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL's second wild-card position.
"The champions always have pressure, and I think the guys know what they need to do to be able to get out of this," first baseman José Abreu said, according to The Associated Press. "We haven't got the results (we wanted), but we know what we need to do, and it starts tomorrow."
Houston began September tied for the AL West lead but is 8-13 since. The Astros have lost five games to the Royals, three to the underperforming New York Yankees, and two to the bottom-dwelling Oakland Athletics this month.
Sunday's loss follows comments made by Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who called Houston's recent play "terrible."
The Astros are scheduled to play six road games to finish their season, with three against the Seattle Mariners followed by a trio of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"It sucks not being able to win right now and getting swept, but we've just got to forget and go to Seattle and play," utility player Mauricio Dubón said. "Everybody knows what's going on. So we've just (got) to go there and be focused and try to win baseball games."
Houston finished the campaign with a losing record (39-42) at Minute Maid Park.