A’s edge Astros 3-2 in 13 to inch closer in playoff chase

Sports

Oakland Athletics’ Robbie Grossman swings for the game-winning hit in the 13th inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics have been pretty good this season when hitting home runs, and added to their total with a pair of solo shots off Houston ace Justin Verlander.

Manager Bob Melvin’s team showed it can be pretty effective playing small ball, too.

Robbie Grossman singled home the winning run with two outs in the 13th inning to give Oakland a 3-2 victory over the Astros on Friday night.

Mark Canha had three hits, including a homer, and Marcus Semien also went deep as the A’s beat the AL West leaders for the second consecutive night to move within a half-game of Tampa Bay for the league’s second wild card.

“We’re a pretty well-rounded team,” winning pitcher Lou Trivino said. “Obviously we tend to hit the ball a far way, and that’s a lot of fun. Lately we’ve been putting bat on ball consistently. Our offense has been phenomenal.”

Corban Joseph singled leading off the bottom of the 13th against Cy Sneed (0-1) and was sacrificed to second. Semien struck out, but Grossman grounded a 2-0 pitch up the middle to give the A’s their ninth walk-off win this season.

It was Grossman’s first career game-ending hit.

“You only need one run there,” Melvin said. “We’ll bunt when we need to when we just need one run.”

Trivino (4-5) pitched three innings of one-hit ball.

Houston lost its fourth straight and wasted the latest strong performance by Verlander. The 36-year-old right-hander had 11 strikeouts in seven innings to set a franchise record with his sixth game in a row of 10 or more. Randy Johnson and J.R. Richard also did it five straight times.

Michael Brantley had two hits for the Astros, who lead second-place Oakland by 7½ games.

“We had a couple of opportunities that I wish we could have done a little better,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “Good game on both sides.”

Less than 24 hours after the teams combined for a Coliseum-record 10 home runs on a hot evening, Verlander and Oakland starter Tanner Roark, along with both bullpens, kept things more controlled on a night when the temperature was 13 degrees cooler at first pitch.

Canha hit his 18th homer in the second, and Semien added his 20th on a 2-0 pitch from Verlander in the sixth.

“The Canha homer, that was a not very well-executed fastball,” Verlander said. “The Semien one I’ve just got to tip my cap, that was pretty much right where I wanted to throw it and he put a good swing on it.”

Roark took a shutout into the sixth before Houston scored twice. Carlos Correa had a sacrifice fly and Yuli Gurriel added an RBI single but was thrown out trying to advance to second.

Roark allowed six hits and two runs in six innings.

“We battled all night long facing one of the greatest,” Roark said. “Pitchers came in big-time, relievers came in clutch. It was a fun game to be a part of.”

UNHAPPY ALTUVE

Jose Altuve went 1 for 6 but the Astros second baseman was particularly unhappy with plate umpire Tripp Gibson after flying out in the 10th. Altuve believed he had drawn a walk earlier in the at-bat on a low pitch and took several steps toward first base before being called back. After flying out, Altuve turned and appeared to say something to Gibson before heading to the dugout.

NECK-TWISTERS

Verlander has allowed a career-high 31 home runs this season, tied with two others for most in the majors.

ALL BY MYSELF

A few hours before the first pitch, a lone fan walked to the top of Mount Davis and sat by himself high in the stands for several minutes before security noticed and escorted him away. An A’s spokesman said that area of the stadium is closed off to fans, although the team has opened it in the past.

ROSTER MOVES

Oakland catcher Dustin Garneau was designated for assignment. Former A’s backup catcher Beau Taylor was claimed off waivers by Toronto.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Gerrit Cole (right hamstring) is not expected to miss his turn in the rotation and could pitch in the upcoming Detroit series. Cole threw without pain and will next throw a bullpen before a final decision is made. The right-hander was scratched before taking the mound in his previous scheduled start Tuesday at Chicago after feeling discomfort in his leg warming up. … RHP Brad Peacock (shoulder discomfort) had one strikeout and two walks in one scoreless inning while continuing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock. Peacock has been on the injured list since June 28.

Athletics: Josh Phegley (bone bruise) was reinstated from the injured list.

UP NEXT

Oakland righty Chris Bassitt (8-5, 3.56 ERA) has won three of four decisions since the All-Star break heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against Houston. Bassitt’s 2.00 ERA over that time is second in the American League. The Astros plan to call up rookie right-hander Rogelio Armenteros (1-0, 1.93) to start. Armenteros has been in the minors since July 22 because Houston had no need for a fifth starter.

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