The Oakland Athletics scored all seven of their runs off of Houston starter Lucas Harrell with two outs in the third inning, and Bartolo Colon struck out seven and gave up five hits and one walk to lead the A’s to a 7-2 victory over the Astros Sunday afternoon.
Oakland went through the entire lineup during the rally, and Harrell threw 40 pitches — 25 of them coming after he got the first two outs. That would end up being the final inning for right-hander, and after an encouraging start where he struck out two and allowed only one hit during the first two innings, his line for the day ended with seven hits, seven runs and two walks.
Brandon Moss got the A’s on the board with a two-out double off the left field wall, scoring Stephen Vogt and Eric Sogard to put Oakland ahead 2-1. In the next at-bat, Yoenis Cespedes swung on the first pitch he saw and hit a line drive to left, and Moss didn’t hesitate to go for home, scoring easily as the throw was cut off at third.
Cespedes slid in safely to second, and Harrell followed it up with a walk to Alberto Callaspo to keep the rally alive. Next, Daric Barton came up and hit a blooper to left-center to score Cespedes and make it 4-1, and Seth Smith capped it off by connecting on a fastball and driving a three-run homer to the stands in left.
Early in the game it didn’t look like Colon would be at his best, but he recovered from a rough start to throw six strong innings. The first was a bit of a chore, as the right-hander allowed a run before he was able to get the first out of the game. Jonathan Villar led off with a single up the middle, and Jose Altuve drove a fastball into the gap in left-center that rolled to the wall, allowing Villar to score from first to give Houston a quick 1-0 lead.
Erik Bedard came in out of the bullpen and went three-up, three-down in the fourth, but he ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up a leadoff single to Moss and walks to Callaspo and Barton to load the bases.
Astros manager Bo Porter came out to talk to his pitcher and ended up having some words for home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt regarding his strike zone, and that earned him his second ejection of the series. Nate Freiman was brought in to pinch-hit for Smith, and he grounded into a double play to end the inning.
That would be the best scoring opportunity the A’s would get against Bedard, who would finish the day with only two hits allowed and two walks.
Brett Anderson was brought in for Colon to start off the seventh, another appearance out of the bullpen for the man who was the No. 1 starter in the rotation at the start of the season. Once again the right-hander struggled at the start, giving up singles to L.J. Hoes and Matt Pagnozzi before Brandon Barnes drove in a run on a line drive to left to make it 7-2.
Anderson settled down and struck out Villar for the first out, and he got Altuve to ground into a double play to end the inning and limit the damage. He returned for the eighth and struck out Trevor Crowe before getting Brandon Laird and Matt Dominguez to ground out for an eight-pitch inning.
Oakland put two men on in the bottom of the eighth against right-hander Jorge De Leon but couldn’t bring them home. Anderson stayed in to work the ninth, and he walked the first two batters he faced before getting Pagnozzi to fly out for the first out. He then struck out Barnes and got Villar to fly out to right to end the game.
The win temporarily moves the A’s two games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West, and they’ve now won eight of their last 10 to recover from a rough stretch in early August. Texas is currently leading the Angels 4-3 in the top of the ninth in Anaheim, so that lead will move up or down a half game depending on the final result.
The A’s will travel to Minnesota Monday to take on the Twins in a three-game series starting Tuesday, followed by a three-game set against the Rangers over the weekend.