Astros blank Athletics 6-0

Altuve celebrates 22nd HR
(c) Houston Chronicle

Joe Musgrove bounced back from a couple of rough starts, tossing 5-1/3 scoreless innings to even his record at 2-2 in a 6-0 whitewash of Oakland Monday night. Musgrove got bullpen help from Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, and Brad Peacock as the Astros won for the eighth time in 10 games.

The Athletics gift-wrapped a couple of runs for the Astros in the second inning. With two outs and nobody on, Yulieski Gurriel reached on what seemed like a harmless infield hit. Athletics third-baseman Ryon Healy blew back-to-back chances to get the final out when he booted a pair of grounders, allowing the Astros to load the bases. Oakland starter Sean Manaea walked the next two batters giving Houston the early momentum and Musgrove a 2-run lead to work with.

The A's mounted a threat in the fifth when they loaded the bases with only one out. But Musgrove rallied to strike out Coco Crisp and Danny Valencia to keep the shutout intact. Musgrove seemed to lose his command in the sixth and was removed from the game with one out and two runners on base.

Making his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury eleven days ago, Luke Gregerson cleaned up the inning in a hurry. On only his second pitch to Yonder Alonso, Gregerson induced a comebacker to the mound and started a 1-6-3 double-play to end the threat.

Jose Altuve led off the bottom of the sixth with his 22nd homer of the year, extending Houston's lead to 3-0. A 3-run seventh featuring RBI singles by George Springer and Alex Bregman put the final nails in the Athletics' coffin and the Astros cruised to victory.

Although Astros hitters struck out 11 times in the game, every player in the lineup reached base via either a hit or a walk.

The series continues Tuesday at 7:10 CDT as Collin McHugh squares off against Oakland's Kendall Graveman. Outfielder Colby Rasmus, sidelined since August 5th with an ear injury, could rejoin the lineup against the right-hander.

- Greg Thurston