OAKLAND — What exactly will it take for the A’s to break out the broom on a visiting opponent?
Oakland held the Houston Astros to just two hits Sunday, none of them after the third inning, but fell 2-1 on a warm afternoon at the Coliseum. Thus, an unwanted trend continued for the A’s.
They haven’t swept a home series of three games or more since July 3-6, 2014, when they took four straight from Toronto. That’s a streak of 39 consecutive home series of three or more without a sweep, extending an Oakland record.
The A’s still took two of three from the Astros, but manager Bob Melvin talked before the game of the desire to finish things off the right way Sunday.
“A lot of times you talk about ‘Let’s win the series, win the series,’” he said. “But when you win the first two games, you need to try to get greedy.”
The A’s collected eight hits but couldn’t cash in except for a seventh-inning rally when three consecutive singles off Doug Fister (2-3) produced their only run.
Rich Hill (3-3), despite some early control problems, turned in six solid innings for the A’s in his longest outing of his three home starts. But the A’s were denied, falling back to .500 (13-13) as the Seattle Mariners arrive for three games to finish this six-game homestand.
Starting pitching report
Hill issued five walks but minimized the damage to two runs over six innings and turned in his first quality start at home this season. He struck out four and held the Astros to just two hits, but one of them was Jose Altuve’s homer to left-center to lead off the game. Altuve is known more as one of the game’s best table-setters, but he’s already got seven homers, putting him easily on pace to pass his career high of 15 set last year. Altuve drew a walk in the third, aiding a rally in which the Astros plated their second run to take a 2-0 lead. Hill thought he had Altuve on a 3-2 curve that seemed like it caught the top of the strike zone, but he didn’t get the call. With the bases loaded three batters later, Colby Rasmus delivered a sacrifice fly.
Liam Hendriks, Fernando Rodriguez and Marc Rzepczynski combined for three scoreless innings to keep the A’s within striking distance.
At the plate
The A’s, who entered the day ranked fourth in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position (.260), went 1-for-7 in that category Sunday. Marcus Semien delivered the run-scoring single in the seventh, but the A’s couldn’t cash in on a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the second. Jed Lowrie doubled with one out in the third but only got as far as third base.
In the field
Neither team committed an error.
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien continues to play stellar defense. He made a terrific play on a ball up the middle for the second day in a row.
A crowd of 24,135 was on hand.
The Mariners arrive for a three-game series at the Coliseum starting Monday. The A’s will face three more right-handed starters, making it 24 righties in their past 26 games. Monday — Kendall Graveman (1-2, 4.03) vs. Nathan Karns (2-1, 3.63), 7:05 p.m. Tuesday — Sonny Gray (3-2, 3.81) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (0-3, 4.65), 7:05 p.m. Wednesday — Sean Manaea (0-0, 7.20) vs. Felix Hernandez (2-2, 1.38), 12:35 p.m.