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Athletics score seven runs in ninth to defeat Astros

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- While the Astros continue to go about the strange exercise of hitting Oakland batters, the Athletics seem content to defeat Houston with the sort of ruthless repetition that renders talk of a rivalry moot.

Athletics first baseman Daric Barton delivered a two-run single against the Astros' drawn-in infield and Oakland scored seven runs in the ninth inning of a 12-5 victory Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

With no outs, the bases loaded and Astros closer Josh Fields (0-2) attempting to preserve a 5-5 deadlock, Barton slapped a sharp single into right field past flailing Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, scoring left fielder Brandon Moss and designated hitter Alberto Callaspo.

Houston right fielder George Springer committed a throwing error on the play, the Astros' third error of the game, allowing Craig Gentry to score from first base for a three-run Oakland lead. Nick Punto chased Fields with a double before Oakland (15-8) tackled on four more runs.

"We do everything we can to put them in positions to be successful, and right now, it's just not happening," Astros manager Bo Porter said of his relievers. "They come into spots we feel are best suited for them, and they're just not getting it done."

The Athletics improved to 10-1 at Minute Maid Park since the start of last season when the Astros joined the American League West. Oakland is 25-5 all-time against Houston and has claimed all three season series.

Before Fields imploded, the Astros received three innings of scoreless relief from their bullpen. Oakland did the Astros two innings better, with Dan Otero, Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson (1-1) keeping Houston (7-17) at bay after a shaky start from right-hander Jesse Chavez. Athletics left-hander Fernando Abad mopped up in the ninth, but not before he hit Astros catcher Jason Castro with a pitch.

Fields and Anthony Bass plunked Moss in the ninth and, after previous dustups between Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie and Astros right-hander Paul Clemens, it came as no surprise when Castro was hit. Plate umpire Jordan Baker ejected Porter after he protested the Abad non-ejection.

"It's the umpire's discretion, I guess, whether I got hit twice or not," Moss said. "They've hit us a few times this series and we hit one of their guys.

"I think Bo said it yesterday: The game of baseball takes care of itself and that's what happened tonight. Some people may not like it, Castro might not like it, but you stand behind your words."

The Astros' five errors Thursday night were a minor factor in their 10-1 loss. However, their early miscues Friday played a critical role in the two innings that Oakland scored against Houston starter Brad Peacock.

With one run already home and Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick on third base after his RBI triple, Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar allowed a grounder off the bat of Barton to squeeze by him and into shallow left field. Reddick held at third on contact but scored on the fielding error and, four batters later, Lowrie plated Barton and Eric Sogard with a two-run single to right that gave the Athletics a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

After Houston shaved a run off the deficit in the third, Peacock undermined his own cause with a throwing error attempting to pick off Sogard at second. Sogard advanced to third and scored when catcher John Jaso lifted a sacrifice fly to left, upping the lead to 5-1 in the fourth.

The Athletics proved equally benevolent in the bottom of the fourth inning, with third baseman Josh Donaldson committing a two-run throwing error following a sharp grounder from Altuve, who later scored on a Castro groundout to second that pulled Houston even.

Donaldson made up for his miscue with a two-run home run in the ninth, his third two-run blast of the series and seventh homer in 2014.

"It was awesome to finish the way we did," Gentry said. "I thought Mossy getting hit by that pitch and Callaspo with that nice single, I think that really got us going. Once we got a couple of runs across we were kind of relaxed and were able to let it go."

NOTES: Athletics assistant GM David Frost disputed a published report stating that RHP A.J. Griffin will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Oakland announced Thursday that Griffin has a scheduled visit with a Houston-area doctor on Tuesday for a second opinion on his right elbow flexor tendinitis. ... The Astros placed RHP Matt Albers on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 22) with right shoulder tendinitis. Albers has a 0.90 ERA but does not have a decision in eight relief appearances. RHP Jose Cisnero was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Houston sent its top pitching prospect, RHP Mark Appel, to extended spring training after Appel struggled with the organization's use of tandem starting rotations. Appel posted a 6.23 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in four starts for Class A Lancaster.
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