HOUSTON (AP) — Rich Hill has returned to form after a stint on the disabled list, and it helped the Oakland Athletics to a much-needed win Thursday night.
Yonder Alonso doubled and drove in two runs and Hill tied a season-high with 10 strikeouts in six solid innings to give the Athletics the 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros.
The win snapped Oakland’s two-game skid and was just its second victory in eight games.
“We’ve seen quite a few of these games from him this year and to come back so effective after a long layoff and an injury is really impressive,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve gotten him back to 100 pitches or so and he’s pitching in the same fashion he did before he left.”
Hill (9-3) allowed three hits and one run to extend his winning streak to six games in his second start since coming off the disabled list on Saturday. Hill was out for a little over a month with a strained left groin.
He said he feels like he’s back to where he was before his injury.
“Last outing went really well and I think this outing went well,” he said. “Every single time you get to put the uniform on at this level and go out there you have to take advantage of it.”
Manager A.J. Hinch said Hill kept Houston off-balance by mixing his pitches well.
“Early, it was all about the breaking ball. Late, it was all about his fastball,” he said. “So he changed his game plan a little bit back and forth and we had no way to solve it. He had a little bit of everything working. Regardless of our tendency to strike out, Rich Hill did a really good job.”
Ryan Madson pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save.
The Athletics trailed by one in the second when Danny Valencia and Khris Davis singled before Stephen Vogt drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. The Athletics tied it when Marcus Semien grounded into a double play that allowed Valencia to score.
Alonso followed with his double to put Oakland up 2-1. He gave the Athletics an insurance run with an infield RBI single with two outs in the ninth.
Houston’s Doug Fister (8-6) yielded three hits and two runs in eight innings for his third straight loss after winning his previous seven decisions.
George Springer extended his hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff triple that landed on Tal’s Hill in center field. Houston took a 1-0 lead when he scored on a groundout by Marwin Gonzalez.
Luis Valbuena singled with one out in the second before Hill settled in, retiring the next 10.
Houston didn’t have another baserunner until a single by Jake Marisnick with two outs in the fifth inning. Hill struck out Jason Castro to end that inning before striking out three with two walks in the sixth to end his night.
Josh Reddick reached on an error by shortstop Carlos Correa to start the ninth before Houston intentionally walked Vogt with two outs. Semien drew a walk after that to load the bases before Alonso’s fly ball dropped in front of Correa to allow Reddick to score.
Coco Crisp was ejected after tossing his bat in the direction of home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn after striking out for the third out of the fifth inning. After the game, Crisp apologized for his behavior and said he didn’t mean for the bat to end up so close to Reyburn.
“I want to apologize for getting too close to him,” Crisp said. “That was pretty bad. Just also to let him know that I didn’t want it to come out where it was going to hit him.”
Crisp went 0 for 3 to snap a 12-game hitting streak, which was the longest active streak in the majors.
Athletics: Daniel Mengden (1-4, 3.48) will start for Oakland on Friday. The rookie, who has 31 strikeouts combined in his first five career starts, looks to bounce back after allowing seven hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Astros: Collin McHugh (5-6, 4.50) is scheduled to start for Houston on Friday. McHugh is looking for his first win since May 30, after going 0-2 in his last six starts.