OAKLAND –- What was shaping up as a feel-good victory took on an all-too-familiar look for the A’s on Sunday.
The Houston Astros scored twice off closer Tyler Clippard in the top of the ninth to erase an Oakland lead and win 7-6 to complete their first sweep of the A’s in franchise history.
The bases were loaded with one out and the A’s up 6-5 when Houston’s Evan Gattis hit a liner to straightaway center that Sam Fuld appeared to first break in on, then had go over his head for a two-run go-ahead double. It was another late-inning defeat for a bullpen that absorbed its major league-high sixth loss.
The frustration set in for Oakland early in the day when manager Bob Melvin was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott.
But the A’s then rallied from a three-run deficit and took a 6-5 lead into the ninth. They wound up suffering their season-high fourth consecutive defeat.
Starting pitching report
Handed a 2-0 lead after two innings, Drew Pomeranz couldn’t make that margin stand in a game that featured multiple momentum shifts in the early innings. The Astros got to him for three runs in the top of the third to snatch a 3-2 lead, though Pomeranz’s defense didn’t help him. First baseman Ike Davis misplayed Jake Marisnick’s grounder to lead off the inning and set in motion Houston’s rally. Altuve lined a single off Pomeranz’s tailbone after the error, but two stolen bases and a walk didn’t help Oakland’s cause.
Pomeranz allowed Evan Gattis’ two-run single and an RBI single from Colby Rasmus before getting out of the inning. Tempers flared in the fourth when Melvin came out and argued demonstratively over Wolcott’s strike zone on a pitch called a ball to Jason Castro. That came a half-inning after the A’s Craig Gentry was called out on a pitch that appeared high on replays. At any rate, Castro wound up working Pomeranz for a walk, and one batter later Marisnick, the No. 9 hitter, ripped a two-run homer to left to put the Astros ahead 5-2.
Pomeranz went five innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Clippard was called upon in the eighth with runners on the corners to relieve Evan Scribner, and he got Jason Castro on a flyout to end that inning. But he couldn’t hold the lead in the ninth. Third baseman Brett Lawrie aided Housotn’s rally by making an ill-advised decision to throw to second going for a force on Jose Altuve’s grounder. The throw was late, Altuve reached base anad eventually scored the go-ahead run.
At the plate
The A’s fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the fourth, and they got clutch two-out hits from a couple players who have struggled at the plate. Brett Lawrie, who entered the day hitting .214, lined a two-run single off Asher Wojciechowski. Two batters later, Craig Gentry lined a game-tying single to left. Gentry had snapped a season-opening 0-for-22 streak Friday night. Gentry also played a role in the go-ahead rally in the seventh, working a leadoff walk and coming around to score on Marcus Semien’s single to left.
Josh Reddick’s RBI triple scored Ike Davis in the second to break a scoreless tie and Lawrie added a sacrifice fly that inning to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.
In the field
First baseman Ike Davis commited an error that contributed to Houston’s three-run rally in the third but later made a nice play going back to catch a foul pop up.
A crowd of 22,080 was on hand.
After taking Monday off, the A’s will see the Angels again for a three-game set beginning Tuesday at the Coliseum. Their rotation for the series depends partly on when Jesse Hahn is available to return. He could slot in Wednesday. Tuesday – Sonny Gray (2-0, 1.91) vs. Jered Weaver (0-2, 5.24), 7:05 p.m. Wednesday – Neither team has announced a starter yet, 7:05 p.m. Thursday – Scott Kazmir (2-0, 0.99) vs. Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.75), 12:35 p.m. All three games will air on CSN California.