Five Bombs Support Verlander's 200th
Astros Regain Sole Possession Of 1st

Gurriel: Key homer gave Astros lead
(c) Associated Press
This wasn't the way Justin Verlander pictured earning his 200th career victory but, after two losses, he'll take it. Verlander received the offensive support he has often lacked this year in a critical 9-4 smashing of the Oakland A's on Sunday that reclaimed sole possession of first in the A.L. West. Houston, who has lately had trouble putting five hits together in a game, exploded for five home runs as the long ball few out often for both teams.

Matt Chapman and Khris Davis homered off Verlander in the first but Houston answered in the third, mostly with a three-run bomb from Yuli Gurriel that just snuck inside the foul pole in left field. Davis launched a two-run shot for the A's that tied the game at four after three innings.

Evan Gattis launched his 24th homer in the fourth, a solo shot off Sean Manaea to break the stalemate. Martin Maldonado, who got all the hard parts of a cycle without the single, tripled to open the fifth and George Springer plated him with a cue shot off Chapman at third to make it 6-4.

The rest was Home Run Derby as Maldonado, Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez went deep to add the final three tallies off the Oakland bullpen. Houston's win clinched the season series against the Athletics which could prove important if the two teams are tied at the end of the regular season.

Verlander lasted just 5-1/3rd innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. Brad Peacock, Ryan Pressly, Hector Rondon and Joe Smith finished the final 3-2/3rd scoreless innings.

Seattle was hammered by the Dodgers and have slipped back to 4-1/2 games behind. Seattle is also the next stop for the Astros on the road trip as Gerrit Cole (11-5) tries to start a winning streak for Houston as he faces King Felix Hernadez (8-11) in a 9:10 pm Central sleepy-bye Monday start. Cole is 1-2 against the M's so far this year. Hernandez, amazingly, has not faced Houston since 2016 and is 4-6 lifetime against the Astros.

- Bob Hulsey