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Young's ninth-inning HR lifts A's past Astros

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- With roughly four dozen friends and family members on hand plus a track record for excellent performances at Minute Maid Park, no one should have been surprised at what Oakland right fielder Chris Young did in the ninth inning on Friday night in his hometown.

With Young belting a three-run homer off Astros closer Jose Veras, the Athletics fashioned an improbable rally and swiped a 6-5 win from Houston, their seventh win in seven tries against the Astros this season.

Young drilled a 1-1 curveball out to left field, striking the biggest blow of the comeback after John Jaso and Coco Crisp worked walks against Veras (0-3), who had allowed four hits over his last 14 appearances.

And while Veras was working on a string of seven consecutive hitless appearances, his recent proficiency proved no match for Young, who extended hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 15 games dating to Aug. 8, 2011, and improved his career average in Houston to .418 (33 for 79).

"It's nice to have the whole family in the stands," said Young, a graduate from nearby Bellaire High School who opened the game batting just .168.

"It's one of the places where you feel a lot of love, a lot of support. Houston's always treated me well. I like coming home so it's partly that and partly the yard plays pretty good for my swing. The type of hitter I am and the dimensions on the field kind of play into it here and places like Fenway (Park in Boston). I've had some success, so it's been nice."

Veras said, "The game was not lost like that (the Young home run), but it was the leadoff guy (Jaso). I just had to attack him, but I didn't."

The Athletics (26-23) improved to 12-1 all time against the Astros (14-34). Grant Balfour picked up his 10th save for Oakland, inducing a fielder's choice grounder from Jose Altuve with the tying run in scoring position.

Astros left-hander Erik Bedard, who recorded just one out in an 11-2 loss to the Athletics on April 15, faced early peril against Oakland again.

The first four Oakland batters he faced reached base, with left fielder Yoenis Cespedes delivering an RBI single to score Crisp. Young later scored on a groundout, but Bedard recovered in time to leave the bases loaded, his modest 2-0 deficit foreshadowing the elusiveness to come.

Bedard struggled establishing any control and labored throughout his five-inning stint, throwing 99 pitches with just 54 of those strikes.

"It was damage control every inning it seemed like," Bedard said. "I was throwing a lot of pitches, but I just tried to keep the team in the game."

His defense rendered aid. Center fielder Brandon Barnes erased Josh Donaldson at third base for an inning-ending double play in the third before left fielder Robbie Grossman gunned down Eric Sogard as Sogard attempted to stretch a single into a double with one out in the fourth.

Athletics left-hander Tommy Milone appeared in control before an unexpected, nine-pitch sequence in the fifth turned the game on its ear.

Having recorded two strikeouts to open that inning, Milone surrendered a solo home run to Matt Dominguez, consecutive singles to Ronny Cedeno, Grossman and Altuve, and a three-run homer to J.D. Martinez that scored Grossman and Altuve and pushed the Astros in front 5-2.

Cedeno scored when Altuve snapped his 0-for-18 drought. Milone reclaimed his groove and completed seven innings, setting the stage for Pat Neshek (1-0) and Balfour to benefit from the late-inning heroics.

"If there's one guy that I know that's going to go back out there and not let it affect him, it's him," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said of Milone. "Other than just a nine-pitch swing, he was still throwing the ball pretty well, and went out there and continued to."

NOTES: Oakland OF Josh Reddick took two dozen swings during batting practice on Friday and inched closer to a return from the 15-day disabled list. He suffered a right wrist strain during the Athletics' first trip to Houston in April. Reddick will complete a full batting practice session before going on a rehab assignment, perhaps as early as next week. ... Astros 1B prospect Jonathan Singleton will join Class A Quad Cities on Monday, returning from a 50-game suspension for a second positive drug test. MLB.com this preseason rated Singleton as the 25th-best prospect in the minors.
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