OAKLAND. (AP) — For Sean Doolittle, closing out a one-run victory against a division leader in September after an injury-shortened season meant the world.
A 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout to end it was even sweeter for the Oakland closer, who helped the Athletics snap a five-game losing streak in a 10-9 victory over the AL West-leading Houston Astros on Monday.
Doolittle came off the 60-day disabled list Aug. 22.
“It was awesome. The Adrenalin was definitely flowing,” the lefty said of his first save since Sept. 19, 2014. “It was right up there with my debut and when I came off the DL as far as the energy level and the atmosphere.”
In a game of big leads and big home runs, the A’s held on with some timely hits, including pinch-hitter Coco Crisp’s go-ahead two-run double in the sixth after Oakland chased Mike Fiers.
Josh Phegley hit a two-run drive in the seventh for the A’s after Houston had pulled within 8-6 in the top half. Houston’s Jake Marisnick added a two-run shot in the eighth as 15 of the game’s 19 runs came from the bottom of the sixth and after.
Mark Canha homered and singled in a run, while Billy Burns added a two-run single in the sixth for the A’s on a warm Labor Day in which it was 83 degrees at first pitch.
Lefty Felix Doubront (3-1) worked six-plus innings to win consecutive starts. Doolittle was the fourth reliever.
Doubront is someone the A’s consider a strong candidate for the 2016 rotation after he “exceeded expectations” according to manager Bob Melvin with his performance during the season’s second half initially as a fill-in for an injury-plagued pitching staff.
“That was a grindy game. I don’t think that’s the way you draw up a one-run victory, 10-9. But we stuck with it,” Phegley said. “It was good to see Doo in his normal role. I’m not used to it, but that was fun to watch.”
Fiers (2-1) allowed consecutive walks to start the inning before giving way to Josh Fields, who gave up Billy Butler’s single to load the bases for Crisp.
Fiers said he felt fine pitching on eight days’ rest in his second start since tossing a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21 while throwing 134 pitches.
“Falling behind in counts, giving up free bases isn’t how I’m supposed to pitch. ... I just need to be better mentally right there,” he said. “Just bad command that sixth inning. I put two guys on and put our team in a bad situation. If I eliminate that we probably win that game.”
Pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar hit a home run halfway up the second deck of the stands in left leading off the seventh for the Astros then Carlos Correa added a three-run drive.
Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly in the second, then Oakland tied it on Brett Lawrie’s triple in the fourth.
CRISP’S PINCH HITS
Crisp was a pinch-hitter for the third time in four games and delivered a hit each time. He has a hit in his last four pinch-hit chances overall.
Astros: Jed Lowrie, a former A’s INF, rested most of the day then was booed as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, when he singled. In his last seven games, he is batting .478 (11 for 23) with three home runs, four doubles and seven RBIs. “To get him to the finish line feeling good, and he’s looked as good as anybody on our team, today was a day that we chose to get him off at least a start,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Athletics: C Stephen Vogt was resting at home after being hit by a foul tip in the groin Sunday. He said by text message, “I’m feeling a little better today.” He had swelling and was scheduled to have a second ultrasound after a first test showed nothing ruptured, Melvin said. ... OF Sam Fuld, who last played on Aug. 30 but hasn’t batted since Aug. 25 as he deals with back spasms, isn’t likely to make a start until this weekend’s three-game set at Texas.
Astros: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-9) faces his former club in his ninth start for his hometown Astros, trying to bounce back from just 4 1-3 innings his last time out against Seattle.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (12-7), 0-3 over his last four outings, faces close friend Kazmir. “It’s just going to be fun,” Kazmir said. “There’s going to be a lot of trash talk through the whole deal.”