Disputed Run, Walk-Off HR Push A's Within One
Rondon Blows Another Save Bid

You make the call
(c) Associated Press
I looked at about ten different replays of Martin Maldonado's tag on Oakland pinch-runner Ramon Laureano at the plate in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night. Umpire Alfonzo Marquez' on-field call was out. No question Maldonado made the tag and held onto the ball. No question Laureano's gloved hand touched home plate. There was no clear view that spelled definitively which happened first. For what it's worth, the Oakland television crew agreed with Marquez even while hoping the replay ruling in New York would disagree.

Somehow, the bleary-eyed New York replay crew found overwhelming visual evidence to rule with Oakland and overturn the call. The Athletics tied the game in the ninth, won it in the 10th on a controversy-free homer by Matt Olson off Tony Sipp, 4-3, and pushed back to within a game of the Astros in the AL West.

Even with George Springer back in the lineup, the Astros managed just six hits but scored three times in the middle innings to cling to a 3-2 lead through the final frames. Alex Bregman went deep against Edwin Jackson in the fourth and Maldonado followed with a solo shot in the fifth for a 2-0 edge.

Two singles and an error in the fifth loaded the bases with no out in the fifth. Charlie Morton saw the first Oakland run score on a double play grounder but then gave up the tying run when Matt Chapman singled home Marcus Semien.

Houston got the lead back in the sixth when Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis walked before Josh Reddick slapped an RBI single to left.

After Morton left following five innings, Collin McHugh, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna silenced the A's through the eighth. That's when Hector Rondon gave up his second straight blown save when Nick Martini doubled to the right field fence as Laureano dashed all the way from first to allegedly tie the game.

Sipp had not allowed a run on the road since May 7th (in Oakland) and only one run anywhere since then (at home to Kansas City in June). Olson crushed a 3-2 slider over the right field wall to send many of the 25,000 attendees into delirium.

Houston has now dropped six of their last seven and fallen to 16-22 in one-run games. They'll try again Saturday in a 3:05 pm Central afternoon contest. Dallas Keuchel (9-9) will pitch for the Astros against righty Trevor Cahill (4-2).

The appearance of McHugh would tend to indicate that Brad Peacock may be the pitcher called out of the bullpen to claim the rotation spot of Lance McCullers who is on the disabled list with elbow woes. The blown save by Rondon may signal the switch to Osuna as the closer since the luxury of lead time has now gone. The Astros have owned or shared first place for 120 days but, without a reversal of fortunes, it may not stay that way much longer.

- Bob Hulsey