OAKLAND — It just wouldn’t be an A’s-Astros series without Evan Gattis wreaking havoc.
Houston’s designated hitter has crushed a career-high 30 home runs this season. Nearly a third of them have come against Oakland.
Gattis went deep twice Wednesday to key the Astros’ 6-5 victory that completed a three-game sweep at the Coliseum. He connected for a two-run shot in the sixth off Daniel Mengden (2-8), when the Astros scored three times to command a 4-1 lead. Then he hit a solo shot off Zach Neal that left a vapor trail on its way over the wall in center. That deep blast in the eighth gave the Astros some cushion after the A’s had closed to within 5-4.
Gattis has homered eight times in 17 games against the A’s.
The sweep brought the A’s crashing back to earth after a road trip in which they won six of seven. It wasn’t a surprise that the Astros were the team to cool them off. Houston has won seven in a row against the A’s, and the visitors closed to within 1 1/2 games of Baltimore for the American League’s second wild card.
Starting pitching report:
Mengden cruised through the first four innings, retiring the first 10 batters he faced. Two walks and a wild pitch led to Houston tying the game 1-1 in the fifth, then his day took a quick turn for the worse in the sixth. He allowed three hits in succession, including Gattis’ two-run homer to left that made it 4-1 Astros. Mengden would allow Tony Kemp’s triple — completing a cycle off him for the inning — before giving way to Daniel Coulombe. The rookie right-hander allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two.
Coulombe struck out Jason Castro to strand Kemp at third in the sixth. The Astros would score twice off Neal in his 1 2/3 innings of work.
At the plate:
The A’s at least generated a bit of offense after scoring just three runs total over the first two games of the series. Brett Eibner’s ground-rule double scored a run in the fourth for a 1-0 Oakland lead. Trailing 4-1, they got a run on Bruce Maxwell’s two-out RBI double in the sixth. It was 5-2 in the seventh when Chad Pinder’s pinch-hit double put runners on second and third with no outs. Run-scoring groundouts from Stephen Vogt and Ryon Healy made it 5-4 before Gattis’ second homer would bump Houston’s lead back to two runs.
With two outs in the ninth, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve let Vogt’s grounder sneak under his glove for an error that scored Pinder to close the game to 6-5. But pinch runner Arismendy Alcantara was thrown out by Jason Castro trying to steal second, and a replay review upheld the call to end the game.
In the field:
George Springer tacked a run on to the Astros’ lead in the seventh, putting his speed and aggressiveness to use against the A’s defense. With the infield in, a grounder went to shortstop Marcus Semien. Semien looked Springer back, but Springer got a great jump on his throw to first and scored on a close play at the plate to make it a 5-2 game at the time.
A crowd of 11,197 showed up for the series finale.
The A’s and Rangers meet for the second time in less than a week, with three games at the Coliseum starting Friday. Kendall Graveman (10-10, 4.21) matches up with lefty Cole Hamels (14-5, 3.42) in the 6:35 p.m. opener, a fireworks game. On Saturday, it’s Raul Alcantara (1-1, 5.65) vs. Yu Darvish (5-5, 3.81) at 1:05 p.m. The series wraps with Sunday’s 1:05 game, with Jharel Cotton (1-0, 1.50) going for the A’s and Texas TBA on its starter.