The Oakland A’s may have the Astros’ number, but unlike earlier in the season, the games are getting closer. Oakland rode homers from John Jaso and Coco Crisp to rally past the Astros 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The A’s won the rubber game of the series and have won 11 of the 12 games between the two American League West teams this year. Jose Altuve and Carlos Corporan homered for the Astros.
Bud Norris pitched well enough to get a win, but didn’t. Norris left the game with a 3-2 lead and deserved better. The only innings the A’s scored on him were in the first and seventh. In 6 1/3 innings the right-hander allowed three runs and four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. He threw 119 pitches, 72 strikes.
Norris got out of a first and second and no outs jam in the sixth inning without allowing a run. He struck out Brandon Moss swinging for the third out. Norris had five strikeouts through two innings.
A.J. Griffin (9-7) was touched for home runs by Altuve and Corporan, but otherwise was effective, allowing only three runs in 6 1/3 innings. Griffin, who had seven strikeouts through four innings, finished with eight strikeouts and no walks.
The first batter Travis Blackley (1-1) faced was Crisp. Crisp’s two-run homer to left, his 10th of the season, gave the A’s a 4-3 lead. Wesley Wright struck out Eric Sogard for the third out of the eighth with runners at first and second with the A’s leading 4-3. Jose Veras retired the side in order in the ninth.
For Oakland, Ryan Cook came in to face Brett Wallace with runners at first and third and two outs in the eighth of a 4-3 game. Cook preserved the A’s lead by getting Wallace to fly out to left. Cook retired the side in order in the ninth to get his second save.
AT THE PLATE
Altuve’s fourth home run of the season to left field leading off the fourth tied the game 1-1. Jason Castro’s double in the sixth was his 27th of the season. After Griffin retired his first eight batters, Marc Krauss singled to left for the Astros’ first hit.
Crisp’s two-run shot in the seventh gave the A’s a 4-3 lead, scoring Eric Sogard. Sogard’s double had scored Seth Smith cutting the Astros’ lead to 3-2.
The second batter of the game, Jaso’s third home run of the season into the Crawford Boxes in left field opened the scoring. In his second at-bat, Jaso doubled off Norris, and Norris walked Jaso in his third at-bat.
IN THE FIELD
Justin Maxwell replaced Brandon Barnes in the starting lineup at center field on Wednesday and made a second-inning catch that Barnes would have been proud of. Maxwell ran about 50 feet behind him to catch up to a ball hit by Brandon Moss for the second out, on the warning track on the left side of Tal’s Hill.
The Astros start a 10-game, 11 day road trip on Thursday at Toronto. From there the Astros visit Baltimore and Minnesota. They don’t return to Houston until Aug. 5, when the Red Sox come to Minute Maid Park.
On Thursday, LHP Erik Bedard (3-7, 4.41 ERA) starts for Houston vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (5-7, 4.83 ERA). The rest of the matchups in the series with the Blue Jays: Friday, RHP Jordan Lyles (4-4, 4.78 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.75 ERA); Saturday, LHP Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.42 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (1-6, 5.66 ERA); Sunday, RHP Jarred Cosart (1-0, 0.60 ERA) vs. RHP Todd Redmond (1-1, 4.32 ERA).