OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)Ramon Laureano might have celebrated a little harder for this hit.
Suspended last month for charging the Houston dugout and triggering a bench-clearing brawl, he delivered an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning that lifted the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics over the Astros 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Laureano yelled over and over after yet another walkoff win by the A’s. They increased their division lead to 5 1/2 games over second-place Houston.
”It’s extremely important,” Laureano said. ”It’s always good to win especially against a team that is behind us in the race.”
Tommy La Stella hit a tying, two-run double in the seventh before Laureano came through against Ryan Pressly (1-2). Pressly allowed Sean Murphy’s leadoff walk before hitting Tony Kemp in the foot as he pulled his bat back from a bunt attempt.
”It’s totally debilitating because they live off walks. The last few innings we had walks,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. ”We’re pitching Murphy like it’s Johnny Bench or something. … We just gave that game away to them.”
Jesus Luzardo pitched a career-best seven innings for the A’s before Joakim Soria went 1-2-3 in the eighth. Liam Hendriks (3-0) got the win.
Then the A’s, quiet all night at the plate, finally delivered a key hit – just like they do.
”That’s kind of been the theme for us this year. We’ll look stagnant offensively for a while then have just enough for the end,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”We always a good feeling when we’re home and we have our last at-bat.”
Laureano was suspended four games in August for his role in the benches-clearing fracas at the Coliseum, which began after he was hit by a pitch. Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine for gesturing and yelling toward Laureano at first base.
George Springer and Yuli Gurriel homered for Houston, which snapped a six-game losing streak with a win in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Astros rookie Luis Garcia hung tough with Luzardo in a pitching matchup of prized rookies on an eerie Bay Area day during which the dark sky glowed orange from wildfire smoke that blocked the sun. Ash covered the green seats.
Shortstop Carlos Correa stole a likely run from the A’s with his strong throw on Laureano’s groundout in the sixth.
Houston is nearly done with a grueling three-city road trip featuring 11 games over 10 days. The Astros are 6-16 away from Minute Maid Park.
Astros SS Carlos Correa, C Martin Maldonado and bench coach Joe Espada wore No. 21 to honor Puerto Rican countryman Roberto Clemente. For Oakland, Puerto Rican Vimael Machin also wore Clemente’s number.
Garcia became the fifth rookie to start a game for the Astros this season and 15th to pitch for Houston overall in 2020.
Astros: 3B Alex Bregman sat out aside from a pinch-hit appearance after being activated Tuesday from the 10-day injured list and playing the doubleheader opener. He is scheduled to play Thursday afternoon’s finale then after Friday’s off day try back-to-back games this weekend at Dodger Stadium. Bregman had been sidelined since Aug. 19 with a strained right hamstring he hurt that day at Colorado. … 2B Jose Altuve (sprained right knee) took groundballs mostly directed right at him. ”We didn’t have him go to his right or left too much,” Baker said. ”He looked pretty good the balls right at him. You’re a bit worried about his lateral movement.”
Athletics: SS Marcus Semien was back leading off after he returned in Tuesday’s opener from a four-game absence with a left side injury before sitting the nightcap. … RF Stephen Piscotty, a late scratch for the opener Tuesday because of left wrist soreness, received an injection that will sideline him for a couple of days. … 3B Matt Chapman didn’t begin baseball activity as he had hoped. He is dealing with right hip tendinitis that forced him out of Sunday’s series finale against San Diego.
The Astros activated RHP Josh James from the injured list and optioned C Garrett Stubbs to their alternate site.
LHP Sean Manaea (3-2, 5.09 ERA) pitches the afternoon series finale for the A’s opposite Houston RHP Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.91) in his second career start.
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