Gattis connects on game winner
(c) Houston Chronicle
Oakland starter Ross Detwiler effectively shut down the Astros offense for seven innings Wednesday afternoon, but a big 2-out rally against reliever Liam Hendriks was the difference in the game.
Detwiler out-pitched Houston starter Mike Fiers but ended up with nothing to show for it. The journeyman lefty held the Astros to one run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings of work. Fiers battled through five innings, pitching out of trouble on more than one occasion.
The A's plated three runs in the second inning to give Detwiler some early breathing room. Yonder Alonso started the frame with a single on a ground ball that deflected off the tip of the glove of shortstop Carlos Correa. After Ryon Healy flew out to center, Joey Wendle reached base on a hot shot up the middle that was ruled an error when Correa was unable to glove it on a hop.
Jake Smolinski followed with a line drive to center that got past a charging Jake Marisnick and rolled all the way to the wall. Smolinski wound up on third base with a 2-run triple and came home with Oakland's third run on Bruce Maxwell's sacrifice fly.
The A's loaded the bases with one out in the third but Fiers struck out Healy and got Wendle on a ground ball to end the threat. The Astros got on the board in the fourth when Alex Bregman led off the inning with a walk and scored on a double by Correa.
The score remained frozen at 3-1 until the bottom of the eighth, thanks to some outstanding work by Detwiler and by the Astros bullpen. Chris Devenski relieved Fiers in the sixth and contributed two perfect innings to the cause. Michael Feliz pitched a perfect eighth and ended up getting the win when the Astros bats came to life in the bottom of the inning.
Hendriks got two quick outs before George Springer's line drive triple to Tal's Hill got the winning rally started. It looked like the inning was over when Bregman chased a pitch in the dirt for strike three -- but the ball scooted past Maxwell and Bregman sprinted to first base ahead of the catcher's throw. Springer scored on the play, bringing Jose Altuve to the plate with the tying run on first.
Hendriks got ahead of Altuve with a couple of breaking pitches but his attempt to sneak a high fastball past the league's leading hitter was unsuccessful. Jose drove the pitch deep on a line into the right-centerfield gap. Bregman came around to score the tying run and Altuve didn't stop until he reached third base with his fifth triple of the year.
Oakland skipper Bob Melvin elected to intentionally walk the RBI-machine known as Carlos Correa, bringing Evan Gattis to the plate with a chance to put the Astros on top. Gattis didn't waste any time, smacking the first offering from Hendriks into leftfield for a go-ahead single.
The 1-run lead proved to be plenty for Astros closer Ken Giles. The flame-throwing right-hander needed only 14 pitches to set the Athletics down in order, earning his seventh save of the season.
The 4-3 win was the tenth in the last 12 games for the Astros as they finished off their fourth consecutive winning month. With a day off on Thursday, the true test begins Friday when the Astros face the Rangers in Arlington in the first game of an important 3-game series. The Astros currently trail the Rangers by 8-1/2 games in the standings and have won only twice in 13 head-to-head meetings against the in-state rivals.
On a not-so-positive note, Marwin Gonzalez was forced to leave Wednesday's game early due to what the team is officially calling "right hamstring discomfort". While it is uncertain how long the team's most versatile player will be sidelined, reinforcements are on the way. Rosters can be expanded on September 1st and the Astros are expected to call up a handful of players from the minors.
- Greg Thurston