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Semien, Cotton send Athletics past sloppy Houston Astros
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HOUSTON (AP) — Marcus Semien wound up with a Little League home run when Houston kept throwing the ball away to help the Oakland Athletics avoid a sweep with a win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

The play in the 3-2 victory reminded Semien of the last time he was involved in something similar — which actually was in Little League.

“I have had that play happen in Little League on my mom’s birthday,” Semien recalled of a game when he was about 6. “She called it a home run and ... there were errors but she was like: ‘Oh you hit a home run for me on my birthday.’ And it was probably like an infield single that turned into a run scored.”

A day after the AL West-leading Astros turned six double plays, their defense quickly fell apart. Boog Powell led off the game with a single and Semien followed with a grounder in the hole that shortstop Alex Bregman threw into right field trying for a forceout at second base.

Semien, who was credited with an infield hit, never stopped running. The relay from right went to first baseman Marwin Gonzalez, and his throw to third skipped into left field, allowing Semien to score easily on the two errors.

It wasn’t only Semien who thought back to that game when he was an elementary schooler after that score.

“I got some texts from some old Little League friends about that one today,” he said with a smile.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch was disappointed his team’s lack of execution forced them to play from behind all day.

“The first inning is disappointing because they are plays we can make and do make,” he said. “We put ourselves in a hole.”

The A’s got their other run in the sixth on a passed ball by Juan Centeno.

Jharel Cotton (6-10) yielded four hits and two runs 6 2/3 innings for his first win since June 23. He had come off the disabled list on July 30 and gone 0-2 in four games since his return, giving up 21 runs and 28 hits.

“I think he found out if he throws the ball over the plate it’s going to allow him to stay in the game a little bit longer and his stuff his good,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

Blake Treinen allowed one hit in two scoreless innings for his seventh save.

Brad Peacock (10-2) pitched into the sixth.

Jake Marisnick doubled in the Houston and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bregman to cut the lead to 2-1.

Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy hit consecutive singles with one out in the sixth inning to chase Peacock. Francis Martes took over and was greeted with a single by Matt Olson to load the bases. The Athletics pushed the lead to 3-1 when Lowrie scored on the passed ball.

Gonzalez hit a solo homer in the seventh. Centeno singled with two outs to finish Cotton and reliever Chris Hatcher gave up a single to Marisnick before striking out George Springer on three pitches.

Powell finished with three hits.


Astros: SS Carlos Correa (thumb surgery) took batting practice off the machine on Sunday and is expected to take live batting practice on Tuesday. Hinch said he’ll need to take a couple of days of live batting practice before they decide if he’s ready for a rehabilitation assignment.

 ... RHP Lance McCullers (back soreness) threw a three inning simulated game on Sunday. Hinch said that if he feels good in a couple of days he could go out on a rehabilitation assignment. ... Relievers Will Harris (right shoulder inflammation), Tony Sipp (right calf soreness) and Michael Feliz (right shoulder discomfort) and catcher Evan Gattis (concussion) will all begin rehabilitation assignments at Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday.


Hinch on Houston’s struggles in a month where the team is 7-12: “I think our guys are going to get healthy ... we’re fighting through a tough stretch.”


Athletics: Chris Smith (0-2, 5.26 ERA) is scheduled to start against Baltimore on Monday. Smith allowed three hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings but did not factor into the decision in a 10-8 win over Kansas City in his last start.

Astros: Houston is off on Monday before Charlie Morton (10-5, 3.69) starts in the opener of a three-game interleague series against Washington on Tuesday night. Morton allowed three hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings for a win over the Diamondbacks in his last start.