OAKLAND (AP) — A day after a dramatic comeback victory, the Oakland Athletics had quite the letdown.
Ryan Cook walked three of his four batters, helping the Houston Astros score two runs in the ninth without a hit on their way to a 4-3 victory Sunday.
“Regardless, we have to find a way to create our own momentum,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s all about winning games.”
Jose Veras (4-0) pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings as the Astros (63-80) took the rubber game of the weekend series. The victory means Houston’s streak of 100-loss seasons ends at three.
Nate Freiman hit a two-run homer in the seventh to give the A’s a 3-2 lead. Oakland went on to load the bases but Veras wiggled out of the jam.
Cook (1-3) came on to pitch the ninth and lost the strike zone. Fernando Abad then came in and gave up a sacrifice fly to Jake Marisnick.
Jose Altuve, who went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, was walked intentionally. Abad then walked Dexter Fowler on a full count to force in the winning run.
“I struggled as much as I could to make pitches. I just couldn’t do it,” said Cook, who got the nod because Eric O’Flaherty was unavailable due to a back issue. “There’s no excuse. I have to be able to make pitches and I couldn’t do it. It’s as simple as that.”
Tony Sipp got the first two outs in the bottom half, and Josh Fields struck out Josh Donaldson for his third save.
“I felt like we gave one away yesterday and today we stole one,” Astros manager Tom Lawless said. “We had some good, quality at-bats and made them throw strikes. They struggled with that in the ninth.”
The Athletics won 4-3 on Saturday when they scored three runs in the ninth inning. Jed Lowrie had a game-ending RBI single.
Coco Crisp and Lowrie had three hits apiece for Oakland in the series finale, and Derek Norris drove in a run. The A’s fell seven games back of the AL West-leading Angels.
“That’s too far out for us to look at right now,” Melvin said. “You never know what kind of a run you can go on.”
The A’s are 8-18 since holding a four-game lead over the Angels on Aug. 10.
Oakland’s Jason Hammel allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven, five of them on called strikes.
Dallas Keuchel gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings for Houston. He is 1-4 since the All-Star break.
Keuchel retired his first nine hitters. He has given up just seven earned runs in 29 innings for a 2.17 ERA against the A’s this year.
Oakland has lost eight of its last 10 and has not won two in a row since Aug. 22-23. This was the A’s fifth straight game decided by one run.
Astros: RHP Matt Albers (right shoulder tendinitis) is on a throwing program though it appears he won’t return this season. ... OF George Springer (left quadriceps strain) could rejoin the Astros for their final homestand.
Athletics: C John Jaso (concussion) will be activated from the disabled list sometime this week, possibly when the A’s are in Chicago. Jaso participated in batting practice on Sunday. ... LHP Sean Doolittle (right intercostal strain) will throw a bullpen session Monday in Chicago and will likely be activated sometime during the road trip.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (4-8, 5.01 ERA) will start Monday night when the Astros open a series in Seattle against the Mariners.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.25 ERA) gets the call for the A’s on Monday night against the White Sox in Chicago. He is 1-4 over his last six starts. Gray will be facing the White Sox for the first time.