The A’s worked hard to hit their way out of a three-run deficit early on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Oakland, its suddenly very productive offense couldn’t make up for the pitching deficiencies in a 10-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
After the Astros jumped ahead with three first-inning runs off Sonny Gray, the A’s mounted a comeback off former teammate Scott Kazmir and commanded a 6-3 lead by the fifth inning.
Then some familiar-looking bullpen issues bit them. Drew Pomeranz relieved Gray and gave up Matt Duffy’s RBI double in the sixth. The game-changing blow came in the seventh, when Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to the opposite field off Fernando Rodriguez that put the Astros ahead 8-6.
Houston would add to its lead with a two-run eighth off Dan Otero, including the first major league homer for catcher Max Stassi, the former A’s prospect and a Yuba City native.
The Astros snapped a five-game losing streak and maintained their current status as the AL’s second Wild Card team.
Starting pitching report:
Considering Gray gave up three runs in a 39-pitch first inning, he did well to last 5 1/3 innings and be in line for the victory at the time he left. That’s one way to view his day. On the flip side, it was another start where Oakland’s ace had trouble locating the strike zone and looked very hittable. He wound up charged with five runs on eight hits and four walks. In four September starts, Gray has posted a 7.97 ERA, with 18 earned runs and 11 walks allowed in 20 1/3 IP.
This scene has played out before, as the A’s bullpen gave up several costly hits in the late innings that turned the tide. Duffy’s RBI double off Pomeranz in the sixth was the first hit of his big league career.
At the plate:
The A’s did well to battle back and at least put themselves in position to win thanks to their hitting. They chased Kazmir by the fourth inning. Jake Smolinski homered in the second and Marcus Semien added another solo shot in a two-run fourth. In the fifth, they mounted an impressive two-out rally that featured three straight run-scoring hits – a double from Smolinski, a single from catcher Carson Blair and a triple to right-center by Craig Gentry.
In the field:
The Astros made a big play in the eighth when they cut down Billy Burns trying to stretch a double into a triple. Burns took a hard tag to the face by third baseman Jed Lowrie and was shaken up and attended to by trainers afterward, but stayed in the game.
The A’s close out this 10-game road trip with Sunday’s 11:10 a.m. game. They’ll run Aaron Brooks (1-3, 7.44) out to the mound to oppose the Astros’ Collin McHugh (16-7, 4.05).