OAKLAND -– After the A’s tied the game off one former teammate, it was another ex-Athletic who eventually did them in Thursday night.
Jed Lowrie delivered an RBI double off Edward Mujica in the top of the 10th that gave Houston a 5-4 victory in a wild opener to this four-game series at the Coliseum.
That came after the A’s scored twice in the ninth to tie it off Luke Gregerson, who spent 2014 in Oakland’s bullpen. The A’s trailed 4-2 in the ninth when Ike Davis singled home a run to cut it to 4-3. Then with runners on the corners and one out, Billy Burns beat out a fielder’s choice grounder to avoid a game-ending double play and allow the tying run to score.
The bang-bang play went to a replay review but was upheld in the A’s favor. With the winning run at third, Coco Crisp flied out to the warning track in right to send it to extras.
That’s when Lowrie, who spent the previous two seasons as the A’s shortstop, doubled to the left field corner with two outs to score Jose Altuve, who singled to lead off the 10th against Mujica.
Oakland was in front 2-1 before Carlos Correa, the Astros’ dynamic young shortstop, torpedoed what should have been a well-deserved victory for A’s starter Aaron Brooks. Correa’s two-run homer off of Fernando Rodriguez in the eighth put Houston ahead during a three-run rally that gave them a 4-2 advantage.
Correa, who in short order has emerged as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, crushed a 2-0 pitch from Rodriguez into the seats in left center.
Brooks delivered his second consecutive impressive start in an Oakland uniform and was lined up for the victory. In an all-too-familiar storyline in 2015, that ‘W’ evaporated due to another bullpen meltdown.
That it came off the bat of the 20-year-old Correa was no surprise however. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa came in leading AL shortstops in homers (13) despite playing in just 50 games. The Astros’ pregame notes package listed Correa as the only shortstop of the last century to hit 13 homers in his first 50 career games.
He sent Rodriguez’s pitch into orbit, accounting for the A’s 16th blown save of the season, second most in the league.
Starting pitching report
Brooks was terrific in just his third major league start, giving up just one run and four hits over seven innings. In two outings for Oakland, Brooks has surrendered just two runs over 14 1/3 innings. A right-hander not known for blow-away stuff, he struck out a career-high seven and showed the impressive mix of pitches that manager Bob Melvin talked about from his previous start.
Rodriguez had struck out two in the eighth before he allowed Correa’s go-ahead homer. He’s now given up six runs over his last eight games.
At the plate
Brett Lawrie crushed a 452-foot homer to center that hit at the base of a luxury suite, one of the longest home runs hit at the Coliseum in recent memory. At that time, the fifth-inning solo shot seemed like it might make the difference as it put the A’s ahead 2-1.
Stephen Vogt provided some impressive power to accompany Lawrie’s blast. He drove an opposite-field homer to left-center off Scott Feldman to tie the game in the second. It was the first homer for the A’s catcher since July 12 at Cleveland, the final game before the All-Star break.
After Lawrie’s blast in the fifth, it was slim pickings offensively until the ninth for the home team.
In the field
The A’s might have plated more than one run in the fifth had Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez not made an outstanding basket catch on Eric Sogard’s deep drive. Oakland advanced a runner to third on the play with one out, but couldn’t build on a 2-1 lead at the time. Crisp made a nice catch at the left field wall to end the top of the third, and he took great care to avoid hitting the wall and rattling that troublesome neck.
The A’s made a comedy of a sixth-inning rundown, but still wound up getting the out in 1-3-6-1-4 fashion.
The announced turnout was 16,172 on Bark At The Park night. The A’s are now 8-2 on the annual day when canines take over the ballpark.
Two of the AL’s leading Cy Young contenders clash Friday night when Sonny Gray (11-4, 2.12) takes the mound against lefty Dallas Keuchel (13-5, 2.35). First pitch is 7:05 p.m.