Danny Valencia homered twice, driving home three runs as the Oakland Athletics sent the Astros to a fifth straight loss Friday night at Minute Maid Park 4-3.
Valencia’s second home run of the night came in the eighth inning with the Astros leading by a run and Pat Neshek on the mound. Mark Canha started the inning with a single, and after Josh Redick popped out, Valencia hit his 16th home run of the season.
The long ball robbed Mike Fiers of what would’ve been his eighth win of the season, third since joining the Astros. He surrendered two runs on five hits in six innings of work with six strikeouts. Will Harris worked around a one out single in the seventh.
Houston tallied runs in the game’s first three innings to grab the lead. Chris Carter’s second inning home run was sandwiched in between a pair of Jed Lowrie RBIs, a first inning single, followed by a third inning sacrifice fly.
Oakland pulled within a run when Josh Reddick and Valencia started the fourth inning with back-to-back home runs, and nobody scored again until Valencia’s second dinger.
Felix Doubront didn’t factor into the decision for Oakland after allowing three runs in six innings, but following Jake Marisnick’s two-out single in the fourth, Oakland pithing retired the 15 in a row. Drew Pomeranz retired replaced Doubront and retired the side in order in the seventh. Ryan Dull did the same in the eighth, but allowed a two out walk to Colby Rasmus in the ninth only to strikeout pinch-hitter Preston Tucker to end the game for his first save.
The Astros were limited to five hits. Jose Altuve had one to go along with a leadoff walk in the first. He scored two of his team’s three runs. Nobody else reached base for the Astros more than once.
Houston falls to 77-71 on the season, and they remain 2.5 games back of Texas for first place in the American League West after the Rangers lost to Seattle, but their lead over Minnesota for the second wild card shrunk to a game after the Twins game against the Angels was postponed due to rain.