HOUSTON (CBS Radio) – The Athletics scored a pair of runs in the second inning and one for safety in the ninth to hang on and beat the Astros, 3-1, taking the first game of a four-game series at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night. The loss snapped the Astros’ three-game winning streak, but they are still 16-5 in their last 21 games.
The Astros (46-40) took the early lead when George Springer led off the bottom of the first with a triple that traveled 421 feet to deep center. He scored on a Marwin Gonzalez RBI groundout to put Houston on the board first.
The A’s (37-49) did all of their damage off Doug Fister in the second inning. Danny Valencia and Khris Davis led it off with back-to-back singles and then Stephen Vogt walked to load the bases with no outs. Marcus Semien grounded into a double play with Valencia scoring from third to tie it at 1-1 followed by a Yonder Alonso RBI double to give Oakland a 2-1 lead. But after that, he retired every batter he faced besides issuing one walk in the fifth inning and one in the eighth.
Fister (8-6) lasted eight innings with a pair of strikeouts and issued three walks to go along with the three hits he allowed in the second. Despite being tagged with his third straight loss, it was a marked improvement from his last two outings in which he gave up nine total runs. His last start ended in a 7-6 loss to the White Sox on July 2 when he gave up five runs and nine hits in only 4 2/3 innings.
“I’m really proud of his effort and his execution and certainly the length of the game that we needed,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after Thursday’s loss.
“A.J. showed a lot of confidence in me, which was definitely appreciated, but we continue to work,” Fister said. “We’ve got three more games to go before the All-Star break and we want to finish on a good note.”
Tony Sipp came in to start the ninth inning and faced Josh Reddick, who reached on a Carlos Correa throwing error. Pat Neshek then entered the game and recorded the first two outs of the inning before an intentional walk to Vogt. He then walked Semien to load the bases. Reddick scored the A’s final run on an Alonso RBI single.
Oakland starter Rich Hill scattered three hits, allowing just one run and two walks while striking out 10 over six innings. His biggest out came when he issued a pair of walks in the fifth inning to put two on with two outs, but then he got Carlos Gomez swinging on a 1-2 pitch to get out of the jam. It was Hill’s sixth straight win to move to 9-3 on the season. The Astros’ offense could only muster three hits while collecting 13 strikeouts.
“A strikeout’s an out. It happens,” Springer said. “We do strike out but a lot of other teams do too. He (Hill) just pitched good tonight, so you have to tip your cap and come back again tomorrow.”
“It wasn’t our night offensively and a lot of that had to do with the way they pitched to us,” Hinch said. “That’s going to happen in this league from time to time.”
Game 2 of the series is Friday night at 7:10 p.m. Collin McHugh (5-6, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for Houston opposite Daniel Mengden (1-4, 3.48 ERA) for Oakland.