OAKLAND – Chris Carter continues to haunt his former club.
The Astros’ slugger crushed a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth off Luke Gregerson to erase a one-run A’s lead and saddle Oakland with a 4-2 defeat Tuesday night.
Carter, a one-time hotshot A’s prospect who was dealt to Houston before last season in the Jed Lowrie trade, has homered five times against the A’s in 2014, with 16 RBI in 14 games. He launched a monster shot off Gregerson (3-3) that easily cleared the left field seats and hit high off the glass that encloses Minute Maid Park in that part of the stadium.
That homer erased what would have been a well-deserved victory for A’s starter Jason Hammel, who threw seven innings of one-run ball in his best start with Oakland.
The A’s took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but things took a bad turn before Carter even stepped to the plate. With one out, Robbie Grossman hit a grounder to second base but Eric Sogard’s throw glanced off the glove of first baseman Stephen Vogt for an error. Gregerson then hit Jose Altuve with a slider that didn’t break, bringing up the go-ahead run in the form of Carter. He also hit a two-run shot in Monday’s series opener.
Starting pitching report
Under pressure to deliver a quality outing, Hammel responded. He completed seven innings, his first time working that deep in an A’s uniform, limited the Astros to just three hits and striking out six.
Hammel entered with a 6.75 ERA since comng over in a trade from the Cubs, and he had his last start skipped, so he was operating on 10 days rest. But he stepped up, throwing his fastball with authority and mixing in his breaking stuff to keep the Astros off-balance.
The issue facing the A’s is how they’ll cope with closer Sean Doolittle heading to the disabled list. On Tuesday, they never got a chance to throw anybody out there for the ninth. Gregerson has enjoyed a very strong second half setting up for Doolittle, but he couldn’t hold the two-run lead Tuesday.
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At the plate
The A’s generated just five hits, but it appeared that might stand up. Jonny Gomes knocked in a run with a two-out single in the first. He singled again in the foruth and came around to score on Nate Freiman’s double to the left field corner to make it 2-0.
Gomes’ production is welcome for the A’s, as he entered with just three RBI in his first 13 games with the A’s after coming over from Boston along with Jon Lester.
In the field
Gomes also made a terrific diving catch in left to rob Carter in the third and strand runners at second and third. But Vogt’s misplay in the ninth opened the door to a game-winning rally.
Drew Pomeranz (5-4, 2.91) is being called up from Triple-A Sacramento to make his first major league start since June 16. He’ll oppose Brad Peacock (3-8, 5.30) in Wednesday’s 5:10 p.m. series finale.