McCullers Pounded In 8-3 Loss
Giles Sent To Fresno; Perez Makes Debut

Hinch pulls Perez in 9th
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
To some Astros fans, the happiest part of the day was hearing that former closer Ken Giles was demoted to AAA Fresno before Wednesday's 8-3 loss to Oakland. Whatever Giles snarled at Manager A.J. Kinch in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game where Giles allowed three runs without a recording an out, it stung badly enough to cause a ticket to the minors. General Manager Jeff Luhnow told the media on Wednesday that Giles needs to regain his focus before he'll be brought back to the big club.

Lefthander Cionel Perez, the Cuban free agent, was called up from AA Corpus Christi for the second time and managed at last to make his big league debut in the eighth inning. The 22-year-old who was 6-1 with a 1.98 ERA this year at Corpus put two men on then fanned Khris Davis to escape the jam. In the ninth, Perez again put two men aboard with two outs when he was pulled for Will Harris who allowed an RBI single by Josh Phegley for Oakland's final run.

The Athletics had already done most of their damage against Lance McCullers. A two-run double by Davis and a sacrifice fly in the first gave the A's a 3-0 cushion. Chad Pinder pushed the lead to 6-0 in the fourth on a three-run homer. Lance left after four frames with four hits allowed and five walks as McCullers struggled with his control.

Brad Peacock and Tony Sipp combined to work three innings and Peacock, who has also hit the skids, allowed a run in the sixth.

Houston made an abbreviated comeback in the fourth when Yuli Gurriel lined a two run single while Tyler White added a solo shot in the fifth to narrow the margin to 6-3. From there, a trio of Oakland relievers kept Houston off the board with four innings of two-hit pitching.

The four-game series concludes Thursday afternoon with Charlie Morton (11-2) searching for his club-leading 12th victory while going against righthander Trevor Cahill (1-2) in a 1:10 pm Central matinee. Houston will likely be protecting a three-game division lead as the Mariners were leading late in Anaheim at last check.

After Oakland leaves, the Detroit Tigers move into town for the final series before the All-Star Break. Speaking of the Break, Alex Bregman has agreed to be one of eight contestants in the Home Run Derby that will take place on Monday night. It will be his first All-Star event.

- Bob Hulsey