HOUSTON (AP) — After the Houston Astros wrapped up their season series with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, manager A.J. Hinch likened the last three games to a heavyweight title fight.
His Astros won two of three to take the belt for now, but he knows that they’ll have to play well down the stretch to fend off the Athletics for the AL West title.
“We have a lot of games to play, a lot of games to win,” Hinch said. “This one feels like a big one obviously to send them out of town a little beat up from the losses. But, also their bullpen is a little beat up, ours is, too. It felt like kind of a heavyweight battle.”
The Astros gave the Athletics just their second series defeat in their last 21 series when Tyler White homered with one out in the ninth inning to give Houston a 5-4 victory.
“It was a spirited series, really closely fought,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It was pretty evenly matched, both teams are playing really hard this time of the year, which you’d expect. If I’m a fan watching these games, I’d be pretty entertained.”
White, who also homered Monday, sent a pitch from Jeurys Familia (4-1) to the seats in left field. The victory moves Houston 2 1/2 games ahead of Oakland atop the AL West.
“You want to get a win against those guys in any way possible,” White said. “It’s a good team but we come out here and we battle every day and we give ourselves a chance to win and I was just lucky enough to be the guy today.”
White’s shot was the 81st walk-off homer in the majors this season, breaking the record set in 2004, according to Major League Baseball.
George Springer and Alex Bregman added two hits apiece and both drove in a run to help the Astros to their seventh win in eight games. Roberto Osuna (2-2) allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for the win.
The Astros lost the lead in the seventh when Brad Peacock took over for starter Dallas Keuchel and struggled with location. Peacock walked Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis to load the bases before plunking Stephen Piscotty on the arm to tie it at 4.
Keuchel allowed eight hits and three runs with five strikeouts in six innings.
Trevor Cahill started for the Athletics and yielded five hits and four runs — three earned — while walking a season-high six in 3 1/3 innings in the 300th appearance of his career.
Springer, Bregman and Jose Altuve hit consecutive singles with no outs in the first inning to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. Houston made it 2-0 when Bregman scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Correa.
Tyler White walked after that, but Yuli Gurriel grounded into a double play to allow Cahill to limit the damage.
Three straight singles capped by one from Jed Lowrie got Oakland on the board to start the third inning and cut the lead to 2-1. A one-out double by Piscotty scored two more to put the A’s up 3-2.
Springer’s RBI single with one out in the fourth tied it at 3-all. Cahill’s day ended when he issued a bases-loaded walk to Bregman to send home another run and put Houston back on top.
He was replaced by Shawn Kelley, who retired Altuve and Correa to end the inning.
Astros: Houston placed RHP Charlie Morton on the 10-day disabled list with discomfort in his right shoulder and activated reliever Chris Devenski from the DL before Wednesday’s game.
THEY SAID IT
Melvin on the nifty running over-the-shoulder catch Laureano made on the warning track on a ball hit by Tony Kemp for the second out of the second inning: “When it was hit, I didn’t think he had a chance on that one. Catching it over his shoulder like that, being from the Bay Area, that’s the one I thought about. I’m not comparing him to Willie Mays, I’m just saying, that’s the one I thought about.”
Athletics: Frankie Montas (5-3, 3.75 ERA) will be recalled from Triple- A Nashville to start for Oakland in the opener of a four-game series against Seattle on Thursday night. Montas allowed eight hits and three runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Colorado in his last major league start on July 29.
Astros: Justin Verlander (13-8, 2.72) is scheduled to start for Houston on Thursday night when the Astros open a four-game series against the Angels. Verlander, who ranks second in the AL with 229 strikeouts, has won his last two starts.