John Jaso and Coco Crisp launched a couple home runs while Eric Sogard added an RBI double, and the Oakland Athletics came out on top of a close series against the Houston Astros by a final score of 4-3 Wednesday afternoon.
A.J. Griffin pitched 6.1 innings, striking out eight with no walks. He gave up a couple homers as the two teams fought for the lead in the middle innings, but a big seventh inning from the A’s hitters ensured that he’d walk away with his ninth win of the season, and Oakland leaves Texas with their record in one-run games at 21-12, the most wins in all of baseball in such a scenario.
Bud Norris pitched a solid game for Houston, also going 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and three walks. The right-hander ran into trouble in the seventh, however, and the Astros bullpen gave up another go-ahead home run late in the game, preventing them from their first series win against Oakland this season.
Jaso gave the A’s an early 1-0 lead with a solo shot to left in the second at-bat of the game. It was the third homer of the season for Jaso, and this one was an opposite field shot that surprisingly carried into the seats.
The catcher added a double with two outs in the third, and Josh Donaldson drew a walk before Jed Lowrie popped out to end the rally.
Other than that, offense was hard to come by for both teams in the first few frames, and Griffin didn’t allow his first hit until Marc Krauss got aboard with a two-out single in the third. His first mistake came when he left a fastball up and in against Jose Altuve in the fourth, and the second basemen crushed it to left to tie the game.
Things cooled off in the fifth, but the A’s threatened in the sixth when Jaso drew a leadoff walk and Norris hit Donaldson with a pitch to put two men on with no outs. Lowrie popped out to left on the first pitch he saw, however, and Yoenis Cespedes hit a high pop up to induce the infield fly rule, essentially squashing any chance at plating a baserunner, and Brandon Moss struck out swinging in the next at-bat to officially end the inning.
The missed opportunity immediately came back to bite the A’s when the Astros put together a rally of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Jason Castro hit a one-out double off of Griffin, and after getting Chris Carter to fly out, he delivered a low slider to Carlos Corporan that the catcher connected on, and the ball ended up over the wall in the right field corner, giving Houston a 3-1 lead.
The A’s responded quickly, and things went south in a hurry for Houston after Norris gave up a walk with one out to Seth Smith. On his 119th pitch, he gave up an opposite field double on a fastball to Eric Sogard that landed in the left field corner, allowing Smith to score from first with no throw to the plate, and the A’s were within a run at 3-2.
That prompted Houston manager Bo Porter to bring in Travis Blackley out of the bullpen to face Coco Crisp. After giving up a homer to Chris Young in the first game of the series, Blackley surrendered another to his former club, and Crisp drove a fastball deep to left field to give Oakland a 4-3 lead on his 10th home run of the year:
Griffin returned to retire one more batter in the bottom of the seventh, but Bob Melvin was taking no chances as he had last night’s comeback fresh in his mind, and Jerry Blevins came in to get the final two outs of the inning.
Oakland put two men on with two outs in the eighth, but Sogard struck out to end the inning without a score. Jesse Chavez was brought in to pitch the latter half of the inning, and he gave up a lead off single to Altuve to put the tying run on base. He struck out Castro in the next at-bat, but Altuve stole second, and after a walk to Chris Carter, Corporan popped out to deep center field to advance Altuve to third.
Melvin brought in Ryan Cook to take care of Brett Wallace, and he did so in only two pitches, getting the first basemen to fly out to left to end the inning.
Jose Veras retired the A’s 1-2-3 hitters in the top of the ninth, and Cook came back out to take care of business in Houston’s final set of at-bats and earn the save.
It was a bit of a sloppy series for the division-leading A’s, and they had to rely on some late inning homers in each game to even have a chance to win any of them. As it stands, they’ve won seven out of their last eight series, and they’ll return to Oakland to face the Angels in a four-game series starting Thursday night. Dan Straily will be back with the A’s to pitch the opener, with C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Angels.