Despite the Athletics struggling like they are in 2016, it still never seems easy for the Astros in the Oakland Coliseum.
They stayed true to the script on Tuesday night.
Will Harris allowed a game-tying RBI double in the ninth, and Oakland (42-52) walked Houston off on a rare RBI infield single to earn the series victory with a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the 10th, Josh Reddick poked a slow-rolling grounder to the left side of the infield. With Houston shifting its infield, the ball snuck past Luis Valbuena, and Carlos Correa’s hesitant throw home was too late to get Marcus Semien at the plate.
It was Houston’s fourth loss in six games against Oakland dating back to July 7. The season series between the two teams is tied at 6-6, and the Astros are just 1-4 in the O.co Coliseum to date.
The game only needed extra innings thanks to Coco Crisp. The A’s outfielder took a high Harris fastball and cranked it off the wall with one out in the ninth, tying a game which Houston had led since the third inning.
Crisp almost surely would have had a triple and been in prime position to soon plate the winning run. But he appeared to think it was a home run, and the Astros were able to get him in a rundown between second and third base.
The late loss overshadowed yet another standout effort by Jose Altuve.
The second baseman came within one hit of a cycle — this time a home run — for the fourth time in 2016. His latest quest for it didn’t involve any trip-ups rounding second base.
Instead, he struck out in the eighth and merely singled in the 10th after recording a single, double and triple in succession during the first five innings.
Altuve scored two of Houston’s three runs, and he now owns a five-game hitting streak along with an MLB-best 16 four-hit games this season. His batting average is back up to .354.
George Springer launched a mammoth solo homer in the fifth, as he left no doubt about his 21st homer of the season.
The #SpringerDinger set a new career high for home runs, eclipsing the 20 he hit in 2014 as a rookie. It was Springer’s second long ball in five games following the All Star break.
It helped the Astros jump out to a 3-0 lead behind Dallas Keuchel, who showed some of his 2015 Cy Young form for much of the night.
Keuchel labored a bit, yet still produced six scoreless innings before finding trouble in the seventh. At well over 100 pitches, the southpaw allowed a single and a double, putting reliever Ken Giles in a one-out bind.
Ryon Healy immediately plated a pair of runs upon Giles’ arrival, but the right-hander ultimately preserved the lead.
Harris, a week removed from his first All-Star nod, couldn’t hold on to it. It was technically his first blown save of the season, although he also surrendered a lead in a four-run outing against Oakland in the Astros’ 10-9 win on July 8.
The Astros again squandered a chance to move up in the standings, given that Texas lost a second consecutive game to the Angels.
Houston (50-44) remains 4.5 games back of the Rangers in the American League West and sits 2.5 games out of the final AL Wild Card slot.