Coming off a 7-2 road trip, the Oakland Athletics celebrated their return home by knocking out Houston Astros starter Jarrod Cozart in the first inning, piling up seven runs en route to an 11-3 thrashing of the Astros at O.co Coliseum on Friday.
The A’s (11-5) belted four home runs and Sonny Gray improved to 3-0 with six solid innings.
Oakland got back center fielder Coco Crisp on Friday after he hadn’t played since Sunday because a sore hamstring and he opened the fateful first by working a walk from Cozart (1-2). Crisp was erased by a Jed Lowrie grounder and Lowrie went to second on a wild pitch. Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss drew back-to-back walks, making it three walks in four hitters for Cozart, to load the bases.
They weren’t done. John Jaso drew a walk and slumping Josh Reddick powered his first homer of the season to center field to chase Cozart and put the A’s up 7-0. Cozart recorded just one out and allowed seven runs on three hits and four walks.
The A’s added another run in the second when Cespedes took reliever Paul Clemens over the wall in left field for his fourth homer of the year.
Things got a bit heated in the third inning, however. Lowrie, who ended the lengthy first inning with a bunt attempt, was greeted rudely by Clemens for his third at-bat in the third inning. Clemens rifled a pitch between Lowrie’s legs. When Lowrie flied out to end the inning, he shouted at Houston manager Bo Porter in the dugout. Porter came out onto the field and exchanged words with Lowrie. The brouhaha lasted less than a minute and the game resumed without further incident.
The A’s countered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run homer by Crisp, his second of the year, off Clemens. Jaso had led off the inning with a single to right and scored in front of Crisp.
After Oakland loaded the bases against reliever Raul Valdes in the seventh on walks to Jaso and Craig Gentry sandwiched around a single by Reddick, Josh Fields came on for the Astros and promptly walked Donaldson to force in a run.
Gray wasn’t dominant, but he didn’t need to be. He gave up three runs while scattering nine hits and two walks, striking out four. Fernando Abad allowed a hit and fanned two in two innings of work and Ryan Cook walked two in the process of striking out the side in the ninth.
The A’s had 10 hits, but also drew 10 walks. Cespedes was 3-for-4 to raise his average to .246 and Reddick’s 3-for-4 day got him to .156 on the season. He was 4-for-41 coming into the game. Crisp went 2-for-3 in his return.
The series resumes Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.40 ERA) will start for the A’s against lefty Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50). The game will be carried on Comcast Sports Net California and MLB Network (for those out of the A’s viewing area) and will be broadcast on 95.7 FM The Game.