OAKLAND -– After the late innings appeared to deal them heartbreak once again, the A’s turned their nightmare into a celebration Sunday afternoon.
They rallied for a walk-off 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth off former teammate Luke Gregerson. With the bases loaded and two outs, Josh Reddick tied the game with a single that ricocheted off Gregerson. Then Danny Valencia continued his torrid streak of late with a game-winning single that found left field just out of the reach of leaping third baseman Jed Lowrie.
The postgame mob on the infield happened only after A’s closer Edward Mujica coughed up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the top of the ninth that gave the Astros a 4-3 lead. Rasmus admired his work, not breaking into his home run trot until the ball struck the seats. But the A’s came right back for a heart-stopping win that gave them a winning record (6-5) on their longest homestand since 2005.
Valencia homered earlier in the game and is 6-for-11 with five RBI over the last three games.
Starting pitching report:
Chris Bassitt continues to emerge as a force. After establishing a career-high seven strikeouts in his previous start, he topped that with 10 strikeouts Sunday over 6 2/3 innings. He held the Astros to three hits and one run with two walks. In seven starts, Bassitt has posted a 2.27 ERA with 36 strikeouts and seven walks in 43 2/3 innings, though his record remains 1-4. As has been the case in several of his outings, Bassitt pitched well enough to win. He’s received one run or less of support in five of his seven starts.
Mujica came on in the ninth Saturday to record his first save as an Athletic. Things couldn’t have gone worse a day later. He lasted just three batters, giving up singles to Carlos Gomez and Lowrie before Rasmus crushed a 3-2 fastball way over the right field wall to erase the A’s 3-1 lead. Mujica left to a chorus of boos, but Fernando Abad finished off the ninth and prevented more damage.
At the plate:
It was 1-1 when the A’s struck for a tie-breaking rally in the eighth that featured clutch hit after clutch hit. Billy Burns delivered an RBI single and Reddick poked a run-scoring double down the left field line off Astros reliever Will Harris. But the rally began with Josh Phegley working a leadoff walk and Marcus Semien moving him to third with a nicely-executed single to the opposite field.
In the field:
The Astros tied the game in the sixth with aggressive base running that appeared to catch the A’s defense by surprise. Jose Altuve scored from first on Carlos Correa’s double to left-center. The ball looked like a single off the bat, but Correa sped around to second. As Billy Burns’ throw came in to second, Altuve never hesitated rounding third. Second baseman Brett Lawrie paused momentarily as he turned toward home, then fired a throw into the dirt toward the plate. Phegley couldn’t pick it on the hop, and it was a 1-1 game.
Phegley came up big in the eighth, however, throwing a strike to second to nail Altuve on his steal attempt.
The announced turnout was 20,278.
After taking Monday off, the A’s head to Toronto to play a Blue Jays team that is the hottest in the majors, having won eight in a row. Tuesday – Kendall Graveman (6-7, 3.90) vs. Drew Hutchison (10-2, 5.42), 4:05 p.m. Wednesday – Aaron Brooks (1-0, 2.41) vs. Mark Buehrle (12-5, 3.34), 4:05 p.m. Thursday – Sonny Gray (12-4, 2.06) vs. R.A. Dickey (6-10, 3.93), 9:35 a.m. All games will air on CSN California.