OAKLAND – An unusual – and unfortunate -- trend continued for Fernando Abad on Tuesday night.
The A’s left-hander has allowed just four runs in 27 games since May 18, but all four runs have been solo home runs. The long ball bit him in the top of the 12th against the Houston Astros, as L.J. Hoes cleared the left field wall with the deciding blow that beat the A’s 3-2 in the opener of a three-game series.
Abad (2-4) has surrendered just six extra-base hits all season, but four of them are homers.
With that, a long night came to a fruitless end for Oakland, which still remained two games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the American League West lead.
Scott Kazmir gave the A’s seven quality innings, giving up just two third-inning runs, but his teammates couldn’t muster enough offense of their own. The Astros, written off as the hands-down division cellar dweller going into the season, is playing decent baseball with a 31-32 mark since May 11.
Starting pitching report
It had been 12 days since Kazmir’s last start, but you wouldn’t know it by his final line. The left-hander went seven innings and held Houston to two runs (one earned), striking out six and walking one. Kazmir did pitch two-thirds of an inning in last Tuesday’s All-Star Game, so he had gotten some recent work. He’s now allowed one earned run or fewer in each of his last four starts, and he continued his phenomenal work at the Coliseum.
Over his last six starts in Oakland, Kazmir has surrendered just five earned runs in 43 innings.
After the Astros scored twice in the third, the A’s blanked them over the next eightinnings, and the bullpen played a big role in that. Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, Dan Otero and Abad combined for four*****scoreless innings in relief of Kazmir before Hoes went deep wit the game winner.
At the plate
Generating base runners wasn’t a problem for the A’s early on. They had at least two in each of the first three innings against left-hander Brett Oberholtzer. But just one of those runners scored, and Oakland trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth. They tied it with a rally that began on Josh Donaldson’s one-out double off the left field wall. He moved to third on Derek Norris’ single to left and scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. Their first run scored on Josh Donaldson’s fielders choice grounder in the third.
In the field
Gentry has been playing on a sore knee, but he had an active night. Jose Altuve led off the game with a single to left-center, but Gentry threw a one-hopper to second that nailed Altuve as he tried to stretch out a double.
A’s manager Bob Melvin came out to argue what wound up being an important play in the top of the third. With a runner on first, Jose Altuve hit a comebacker that ricocheted off Kazmir and was tracked down by Donaldson. His off-balance throw to first was wide left, and it appeared Altuve could have been called for interference for running inside the baseline. Nate Freiman couldn’t make a play on the ball and the throw got past him ot allow both runners to move up a base. Then former Athletic Chris Carter delivered a two-run single to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
The announced turnout was 22,908.
Jesse Chavez (7-6, 3.14) matches up against former A’s prospect Brad Peacock (3-6, 4.39) in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game. Over his last three starts, Chavez has allowed just two runs (19 1/3 innings).