OAKLAND –- Jesse Chavez hadn’t logged a work day this long in quite some time.
It had to make for a satisfying afternoon for the A’s right-hander as Oakland notched a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros. They’ve taken two of the first three from the American League West leaders and will try to capture the four-game series in Sunday’s finale.
Chavez (6-11) weaved his way around trouble to complete seven innings, his longest outing since he went seven against the Padres way back on June 17. He pocketed just his second victory since June 23. Chavez did it despite issuing four walks and having to strand at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings. He wound up with just one 1-2-3 inning.
But it was enough to carry a slim lead into the eighth inning. Drew Pomeranz handled the eighth but gave way to Edward Mujica after walking Jed Lowrie to open the ninth. Mujica stranded the tying run at third to register his first save in an A’s uniform.
Danny Valencia’s two-run double in the first accounted for all the A’s offense. So many times they’ve clung to a narrow lead in the late innings only to cough it up. They held on this time, just their 12th victory in 38 one-run games this season.
A’s left fielder Coco Crisp left the game after two innings with what was announced as an illness, with Sam Fuld replacing him.
Starting pitching report
Chavez entered the day 1-5 with a 6.23 ERA over his previous seven outings. He was at 94 pitches after six innings. The fact Melvin sent him out for the seventh was probably due to his 1-2-3 sixth, and also partly due to Melvin wanting to max out his starter and hold off on going to his shaky bullpen until he had to. Chavez allowed six hits, struck out four and walked a season-high four.
Mujica took over for Pomeranz with no outs and the tying run on first. Chris Carter lined out to left. Pinch runner Jake Marisnick stole second and advanced to third on Hank Conger’s fly out, but Mujica got Jose Altuve to ground to third on the first pitch to close out his first save as an Athletic.
At the plate
Valencia drew a start at DH over Billy Butler, as manager Bob Melvin looked to ride the hot hand after Valencia homered and had two hits Friday night. He kept it rolling in his first at-bat Saturday, splitting the right-center gap with a two-run double in the first off Collin McHugh (13-6). He singled in his next plate appearance and is 4-for-7 with three RBI over the past two games, providing some spark from the cleanup spot. That first-inning rally began with consecutive walks issued to Billy Burns and Coco Crisp.
But the A’s did no more damage off McHugh, who needed a whopping 121 pitches to get through six innings. He kept the Astros in the game though, allowing just five hits and striking out eight.
In the field
It was an errorless game for the A’s defense.
The announced turnout was 25,091.
Mike Fiers (0-0, 10.80) faces the A’s on Sunday in his first start for Houston since coming over in a July 30 trade from Milwaukee. He was pressed into emergency relief duty in his first outing for the Astros, throwing five innings and giving up six runs against Texas on Monday. Chris Bassitt (1-4, 2.64) takes the ball for Oakland, coming off his first win of the season. First pitch is 1:05 p.m.