Brandon Barnes on his ejection
Brandon Barnes became the first Astros player this season to be ejected from a game, when he got ran in the sixth inning.
Barnes lasted longer than Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who failed to finish the fourth inning. It was a frustrating Friday night for the Astros, who lost 7-5 at Oakland as the A’s evened the four-game series a game apiece. The Astros had a chance in the ninth inning as they scored one run and had runners at second and third and two outs with Matt Dominguez, who had two RBIs, at the plate. But Oakland closer Grant Balfour closed out Dominguez with a high fastball for the strikeout to end the game.
Keuchel (5-9) struggled on Friday. The left-hander was chased with one out in the fourth inning after Jed Lowrie’s RBI single tied the game 4-4. After three innings Keuchel had thrown 80 pitches. In 3 1/3 innings the left-hander allowed five runs and 10 hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Keuchel threw 95 pitches, 61 for strikes.
A.J. Griffin (13-9) came into the game having allowed a major-league high 33 home runs. The right-hander didn’t allow a home run on Friday. In six innings Griffin allowed four runs and seven hits. He struck out nine with one walk to earn the win. Griffin struck out the side in the fifth, striking out Jason Castro, Dominguez and Chris Carter.
IN THE BULLPEN
Chia-Jen Lo retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning for Houston. Philip Humber relieved Keuchel and pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs with three strikeouts and two walks.
Balfour got his 37th save but the Astros got to the right-hander in the ninth inning with Jonathan Villar scoring. In one inning Balfour allowed one run and two hits and the Astros had the tying run on second when Balfour got Dominguez, who struck out four times but was playing for the first time after missing four games with a sinus illness.
AT THE PLATE
Villar had a team-high three hits and scored twice for the Astros while Brett Wallace and Trevor Crowe had two hits each. The Astros had four hits in a three-run third inning with Dominguez driving in two runs with a two-out single that put the Astros ahead 3-1, scoring Jose Altuve and Crowe.
L.J. Hoes, who came into the game following Barnes’ ejection, struck out in his only at-bat off Ryan Cook to end the eighth inning with two runners on base and the Astros trailing 7-4.
Josh Donaldson was a triple shy of a cycle as the Oakland third baseman had three hits, scored three times and drove in two runs. Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes and Nate Frieman had two hits each for Oakland.
Oakland put the game out of reach with a two-run sixth inning with both runs coming only two pitches into the inning. Coco Crisp hit Humber’s first pitch of the inning for a triple. On Humber’s second pitch, Donaldson hit his 21st home run to put the A’s ahead 7-4. The A’s opened their third inning with consecutive doubles by Donaldson and Lowrie en route to four straight hits in a two-run inning to tie the game 3-3. The double was Lowrie’s 42nd of the season
IN THE FIELD
After the A’s opened their third inning with four straight hits, Astros third baseman Dominguez started a key double play in a 3-3 game. Dominguez fielded a hot shot by Albert Callaspo, ran and touched third base and fired to first base where Wallace made a great pick of the ball to complete the double play.
Chris Carter made a great diving catch in left field for the second out of the fifth inning. Carter flashed some leather and a smile after robbing Chris Young of a hit. But then on the next batter Carter dropped a ball hit by Brandon Moss for a two-base error.
FIRST EJECTION OF SEASON
In game 141 Barnes became the first Astro ejected this season. The Houston center fielder was tossed from the dugout by home plate umpire Alan Porter. The dispute came about after Barnes was hit by a A.J. Griffin curveball on the elbow, but Barnes was not allowed to take first base because Porter ruled Barnes had leaned into the pitch. Barnes then went on to strike out in the at-bat. Right fielder Crowe moved to center field and Hoes came into Barnes’ spot in the batting order to play right field.
ON THE BASES
Donaldson stole third base in the fourth inning with one out and scored on a Cespedes ground out as the A’s retook the lead 5-4.
Saturday is game three of the four-game series. Starting for Houston on Saturday will be LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (8-7, 4.38 ERA). In Sunday’s series finale, RHP Paul Clemens (4-5, 5.91 ERA) pitches for Houston vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (14-6, 2.90 ERA).