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Astros 7, Athletics 6

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HOUSTON -- Marwin Gonzalez, Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler opened the bottom of the eighth inning with successive hits against Oakland left-hander Sean Doolittle as the Houston Astros rallied for a 7-6 victory in their final at-bat on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Gonzalez and Fowler, both switch-hitters, and the right-handed-hitting Altuve exploited their matchups with Doolittle and so did Astros left-handed-hitting catcher Jason Castro. His RBI single to right field scored Altuve, boosted the Astros' lead to 5-3 and chased Doolittle (0-2).

Fowler and Castro later scored on RBI groundouts from George Springer and Marc Krauss, which proved to be insurance when Oakland rallied in the ninth.

Brandon Moss' three-run homer against Houston right-hander Jerome Williams (1-1) in the ninth cut the deficit to one run. Nick Punto added a single before left-hander Raul Valdes entered and fanned John Jaso and Jed Lowrie to post his first save and preserve the win for the Astros (8-17).

The Athletics (15-9) lost in Houston for just the second time since the start of last season when the Astros moved to the American League.

Initially, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel appeared next in line to fall victim to the Athletics' dominance in this series. Oakland sent seven batters to the plate in its first at-bat, with the first two hitters in the order, designated hitter Coco Crisp and catcher Derek Norris, reaching and scoring to give the Athletics a 2-0 lead four batters into the game.

But Keuchel had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his previous three starts, and after his rocky first inning, Keuchel found his groove quickly. Aside from Norris' leadoff double in the third, Keuchel retired each batter he faced through the middle of the sixth inning, 15 in total.

The Astros delivered a pair of home runs to push into the lead, with center fielder Dexter Fowler cranking a solo shot in the first inning to shave the deficit in half. In the second, Chris Carter followed a Marc Krauss leadoff walk off Athletics right-hander Dan Straily with a 415-foot blast to left field, his third home run, to inch the Astros in from 3-2.

NOTES: Astros RHP Scott Feldman remains on schedule to return from the 15-day disabled list and take his next turn in the rotation on May 4 against the Seattle Mariners after RHP Collin McHugh fills the void for a second time on Sunday against the Athletics. Feldman (right biceps tendinitis) was placed on the DL on April 21, backdated to April 18. ... Astros manager Bo Porter plans on sticking with 2B Jose Altuve atop the order despite the offseason acquisition of Fowler, whose 2,721 career plate appearances include 1,733 batting leadoff. In the eight games since Fowler was dropped to second in the Astros order, he has a .286/.444/.321 slash line with an OPS 180 points higher than when he lead off for 11 games. ... Had the Athletics entered the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night facing a save situation, RHP Jim Johnson would have earned the opportunity. Johnson was removed from the closer role after a poor start to his first season in Oakland, but has worked his way back into the closer-by-committee consideration.
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