HOUSTON (AP)Seth Brown homered and drove in four runs, Cole Irvin overcame a rocky start and the Oakland Athletics beat the Houston Astros 8-5 on Saturday night.
Tony Kemp had three hits and scored three runs as Oakland won for the fourth time in 15 games this month, and snapped Houston’s six-game winning streak a day after the Astros clinched a postseason berth.
”This was a great win for this team,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. ”Offensively, we’ve been pretty much shut down and for the hitters to come back and be aggressive, I feel like they turned the page from the last two days and moved forward.”
Brown crushed an 80mph slider off Astros starter Jose Urquidy in the fifth inning 432 feet to the right-field upper deck for a three-run homer to give the A’s a 6-4 lead. It was Brown’s 23rd of the season. In his next at-bat, he doubled off Will Smith in the seventh to extend the lead to 7-4.
Urquidy (13-7) allowed six runs and seven hits in six innings while striking out six. Houston’s magic number to clinch the AL West remained at four.
”I have full confidence in Urquidy,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. ”You don’t lose confidence in a guy because he’s had a couple of rough outings. That happens to everybody, and I know it’s bothering him as much as anybody to not put hitters away.”
One day after Yordan Alvarez hit three homers, the Astros hit three in an inning, pouncing on Irvin during a four-run first. Alvarez also homered again, hitting No. 37 off A.J. Puk in the eighth.
Oakland scored first, opening the game with three straight singles. Sean Murphy scored Kemp to put the A’s up 1-0 early.
Aledmys Diaz started the bottom of the first with a shot to left field. Two batters later, Kyle Tucker and Trey Mancini went back-to-back with homers to right. The Astros batted around in the first inning, spraying six hits and jumping to a 4-1 lead.
”I wasn’t mixing my sequences enough,” Irvin said. ”I didn’t recognize that until after that first inning. I had to settle myself down and explain to myself with a few expletives what I needed to do to attack the rest of the day.”
Irvin (9-11) settled down after the first inning and ultimately allowing the four runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out one and finished with an efficient 73 pitches – 54 for strikes.
”That first inning has been my bugaboo in my career,” Irvin said. ”It’s been that way since high school. It’s just something that happens. I want to come out and attack, and I’m not always paying attention to what the opposition is trying to do against me.”
Domingo Acevedo pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Kemp scored again in the third on a sacrifice fly by Vimael Machin, and Chad Pinder’s solo homer in the fourth cut Houston’s early lead to 4-3. Oakland added another run in the ninth when Machin singled to drive in Kemp.
”That’s why you always play nine innings,” Kemp said. ”I can’t say enough about our guys. Everybody just took that first inning, especially Cole, and put it behind them and decided just to roll with it. Definitely a big confidence boost for the guys.”
PUT A RING ON IT
Oakland right-hander Austin Pruitt was presented a 2021 American League Championship ring by Astros manager Dusty Baker before Saturday’s game. Pruitt pitched only 2 2/3 innings over three outings for Houston in 2021.
Astros players and coaches stood behind representative flags from their home countries in a pregame ceremony as part of Hispanic Heritage Weekend. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and Honduras were all represented.
Irvin was asked if he thought he was tipping pitches early, contributing to his rough start. He replied, ”Nah, I’m pretty self-aware on that stuff. Sometimes I even tip on purpose just to make them think they’ve got something.”
Athletics: Ken Waldichuk (0-1, 5.40) starts Sunday for Oakland, making his fourth MLB start and still seeking his first victory.
Astros: Framber Valdez (15-5, 2.50) will take the mound for Houston. He pitched a complete-game in a 7-0 win over Detroit in his last outing on Sept. 12.