- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Astros
- Josh Donaldson
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By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange September 7, 2013 1:46 AM
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Josh Donaldson went 3-for-5 with a home run, double and two RBIs, powering the Oakland A's to a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night and back into sole possession of first place in the American League West. The A's moved a half game ahead of the Texas Rangers, who lost 6-5 to the Los Angeles Angels. The A's had lost four of their past six games against the last-place Astros before beating them soundly in the second game of this four-game series. Donaldson doubled and scored in the third inning, singled and scored in the fourth and hit his 21st home run of the season in the sixth, a two-run shot off right-hander Philip Humber that gave the A's a 7-4 lead. A's right-hander A.J. Griffin (13-9) gave up four runs and seven hits but struck out nine, matching his career high, and grinded his way through six innings for the win. He got sharper later in his outing, striking out the side in the fifth and fanning two Astros in the sixth. Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (5-9) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs. He struck out three, walked two and threw 95 pitches, just 61 for strikes. Keuchel, who had quality starts in his previous two outings, lost his fourth straight game. He's 1-6 in his past 14 starts. A's center fielder Coco Crisp led off the sixth with a triple against Humber, and Donaldson sent Humber's 1st pitch over the left field fence. The Astros scored a run in the ninth off A's closer Grant Balfour, who struck out Matt Dominguez with runners on second and third to end the game and notch his 37th save. The A's had three singles and sent seven batters to the plate in the second inning but scored just one run off Keuchel. Chris Young brought Yoenis Cespedes home from third when he pushed a bunt past Keuchel on the first base side for an RBI single. Houston bunched four hits in the top of the third and scored three times off Griffin, taking a 3-1 lead. Jonathan Villar roped a one-out double and scored on Jose Altuve's sharp single. After Trevor Crowe blooped a single to center, both runners tagged and advanced when Jason Castro flied out to deep right. Dominguez lined a two-run single to left. The A's countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, pulling even. Donaldson lined a leadoff double to center that Brandon Barnes misplayed, and Donaldson scored on Jed Lowrie's double. Cespedes moved Lowrie to third with a sharp single and Nate Freiman brought him home with an infield single. Houston moved back ahead 4-3 with a run in the fourth. Brett Wallace led off with a single and moved to second when Griffin hit Barnes with a pitch. Both runners advanced on Cody Clark's sacrifice bunt, and Villar brought Wallace home on a drag bunt single down the first-base line. The A's regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Crisp worked a one-out walk and moved to second on a Donaldson single. Lowrie grounded an RBI single to center, scoring Crisp and ending Keuchel's night as Humber took over. Donaldson stole third and scored when Cespedes grounded out to third. NOTES: Castro (right knee cyst) returned to the lineup after missing three games and started at designated hitter. Castro has not been cleared to catch. ... Dominguez (sinus infection) returned to the lineup after missing three games. ... Oakland C Derek Norris (fractured left big toe) was in the lineup, one day after being activated from the disabled list. He hadn't played since Aug. 20 against Seattle. ... Astros OF Robbie Grossman (strained right oblique) missed his third straight game. He worked with trainers on the field before the game but has yet to swing a bat since leaving Tuesday night's game against Minnesota.