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A’s split doubleheader with Astros, AL West lead still 4 1/2 games

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 9/9/2020 By Matt Kawahara

For a few hours Tuesday, the A’s held their largest division lead of the season and looked poised to expand it.

Playing a doubleheader against second-place Houston, the A’s won 4-2 in Game 1 and took an early four-run lead in Game 2, only to see the Astros come back for a 5-4 win to keep Oakland’s lead in the AL West at 4 ½ games.

The A’s didn’t trail Tuesday until the seventh inning of Game 2, when Houston loaded the bases on an error, an infield single and a walk and broke a 4-4 tie on Yuli Gurriel’s sacrifice fly off J.B. Wendelken. The Astros snapped a six-game losing streak; the A’s lost for just the second time in 21 games when scoring at least four runs.

“We had a lead and just couldn’t hold it, which is unlike our bullpen,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “And in a seven-inning game we felt pretty good about where we were but didn’t do enough offensively after we gave up some runs.”

Left-hander Mike Minor allowed four runs in his first A’s start, three of which scored after he’d left the game. The Astros loaded the bases in the fourth inning on two singles and a walk against Minor, who departed after hitting Carlos Correa in the foot to force in a run. Yusmeiro Petit, who’d stranded 9-of-11 runners this season, then issued back-to-back bases-loaded walks and allowed a game-tying infield single by George Springer.

“He’s been so good in that role so many times for us over the years that every now and then you’re not going to get it done,” Melvin said of Petit, who’d walked three of 65 batters faced entering Tuesday. “That was just the case tonight.”

It nullified the A’s four-run third that included Matt Olson’s 100th career home run, a towering three-run shot off Chase De Jong that reached the second deck in right field at the Coliseum. Olson’s 100th homer came in his 399th major-league game; per the A’s, Olson is the 11th major-leaguer and second A’s player to reach 100 in 399 games or fewer. Mark McGwire reached the mark in 393 games.

“It’s a cool milestone,” Olson said. “But that’s kind of it.”

The A’s reached the two-thirds mark of their schedule at 25-15 and are 5-1 against the Astros this season in Oakland with two games to play in this series. “Didn’t lose any ground,” Olson said. “Split with them and ... hopefully win these next two.”

The A’s played Game 1 on Tuesday as the away team in a makeup of an Aug. 30 postponement in Houston. Khris Davis hadn’t played since Aug. 26 but started at designated hitter and responded with a home run and an RBI double off Zack Greinke. Batting .155 with three extra-base hits entering the game, Davis drove both his third-inning homer and sixth-inning double to right-center.

“It was big … You want to credit a guy who’s worked really hard and had to take a bit of a demotion,” Melvin said. “We’re trying to find the right matchups to get him going again. With the injuries and so forth this is the type of guy that can carry a team.”

With third baseman Matt Chapman out due to right hip tendinitis, the A’s got shortstop Marcus Semien (left side soreness) back Tuesday after a five-game absence but scratched right fielder and RBI leader Stephen Piscotty before Game 1 with a sore left wrist. Semien played Game 1 only and went 0-for-4 in his first at-bats since Aug. 29. Melvin said the A’s plan on “playing it day-to-day” with Semien to “see what kind of residual soreness he has in there.”

Right-hander Frankie Montas completed five innings for the first time since Aug. 8 and held the Astros scoreless until Michael Brantley’s two-run homer in the fifth. Montas, who’d allowed 18 runs over his previous three starts, said he emphasized “attacking - just, hey, you’re going to have to hit my pitch.”

Tuesday was the start of a seven-day stretch in which the A’s play three doubleheaders and 10 total games. After Game 1, Montas was asked whether the A’s were putting pressure on the Astros in the division race with only a few weeks remaining in the regular season.

“I don’t think none of us are thinking about that,” Montas said. “That’s their job to think about whether they have pressure or not. We’re chilling here. We’re just trying to play good baseball.”

Matt Kawahara covers the A’s for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: Twitter: @matthewkawahara


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