Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: A's 5, Orioles 2

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's 5, Orioles 2

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OAKLAND -- The A's gloves and jerseys were golden on Saturday night. They defeated Baltimore 5-2 to win the season series and now are ensured home field advantage if they end the season tied with the Orioles atop the Wild Card standings. Coupled with the Rangers' loss on Saturday, the A's are now two games behind Texas in the American League West and a season-high 23 games over .500. At the PlateAll of the A's runs scored in a five-run, 10-batter rally against Orioles' starting pitcher Zach Britton in the third inning. Stephen Drew got the scoring started with a solo homer to right field, his second for Oakland this season. He ended up striking out to end the inning. Josh Reddick went opposite field poking an RBI single to where the shortstop would have been standing if the shift wasn't on. Reddick's 76th RBI made it a 2-0 game. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a sharp RBI single up the middle driving in Jonny Gomes who was hit by a pitch. Chris Carter followed with a two-run oppositie field double scoring Reddick and Cespedes. When Carter hit the ball, Cespedes got such a good read and was running so fast that he almost blew right past Reddick on the base paths. When the dust settled from the A's offensive explosion it was a 5-2 game and Britton had thrown 38 pitches in the inning. Reddick added a double in the seventh inning, then advanced to third on a wild pitch during an intentional walk to Cespedes. Carter drew a walk to load the bases. The A's couldn't add on to their lead though. Josh Donaldson popped out to right and Derek Norris hit a foul pop up to third to end the inning. Starting Pitching ReportJarrod Parker fell behind early but didn't falter. He lasted seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. He won his 11th game of the season. Parker was charged with an error after a pickoff throw got past Carter in the second inning allowing Jones to race to third. He scored with ease when Mark Reynolds hit a double down the left field line to make it 1-0. He gave up a solo homer in the third inning to leadoff hitter Nate McLouth on a fastball. That was all the damage that was done against Parker. The rookie starting pitcher benefitted greatly from some slick glove work in the fourth frame. Adam Jones hit a leadoff single and Chris Davis followed with a double but Jones was gunned down at home on the play. After the defensive effort, Parker retired 11 of the next 13 batters. Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle pitched a hitless eighth inning and struck out one. Grant Balfour entered with a three run lead in the ninth inning looking for his 19th save of the season. He gave up a hit and a walk but escaped unscathed for the save. In the FieldThe A's picked up where they left off Friday night by turning a double play in the first inning. The Orioles have grounded into five double plays in this series. In the second inning Drew made a smart decision that followed a bad decision by Reynolds, who got caught between second and third base on a hard-hit ground ball hit directly to the shortstop. Reynolds ended up in a rundown when Drew elected to go after the lead runner instead of the out at first. Drew also made a highlight reel play in the seventh inning ranging up the middle and flipping the ball with his glove to second base. He finished the seventh by running deep into foul territory and making a catch near the bullpen mound. In the fourth inning Jones reached on a single and was gunned down at home on a perfect defensive play by the A's following a Davis double. Cespedes got to the ball and made a strong throw to Drew, who made a perfect throw to Norris, who caught the ball and made the tag on Jones as he slid home. Donaldson made a ranging catch to end the top of the fourth inning. He ran all the way to the tarp and fell over the top of the rolled-up rain protector as he hauled in the ball. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 20,342. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race. White bumped Green off the track right before the finish line. Up NextThe A's will go for the series sweep on Sunday. The Orioles announced their starter for Sunday shortly before Saturday's game. They have decided to go with lefty Randy Wolf (5-10, 5.69 ERA). It will be Wolf's first start for Baltimore, and his first since Aug. 19 with Milwaukee. He will be the third lefty in a row the A's face. Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42 ERA) will be on the mound for the A's. It will be his fifth career start. The A's have won all four games started by Straily this season.

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

HOUSTON — No one questions the quality of stuff that Jharel Cotton takes to the mound.

According to A’s manager Bob Melvin, the key for his rookie starter is more an issue of mindset and aggressiveness.

Cotton was in attack mode Sunday after a wobbly first inning against the Houston Astros. The result was an encouraging six-inning outing that set the A’s on the path to a 3-2 victory that helped them avoid a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.

While the victory was important for his team’s overall psyche, Melvin also hopes it triggers some confidence for Cotton in how he can attack a dangerous lineup and have success.

“I think he found out if he throws the ball over the plate, it’s gonna allow him to stay in the game longer,” Melvin said. “He should take a lot out of this game, especially against a lineup like that. Knowing that if I’m throwing the ball over the plate, using a mix of pitches and I’m not afraid to use my fastball, that the results can be good. We’ve seen him pitch really good games because he’s got good stuff.”

Cotton (6-10) rang up his first major league victory since June 23 against the White Sox. That was before a blister on his thumb led to a stint on the disabled list. Since then, he’d struggled with walks, ill-timed homers, and generally enough turbulence to invite speculation on whether the A’s might skip him for a start or send him down.

He answered Sunday by holding the majors’ highest-scoring team to two runs on four hits over his six innings. That was after walking two in a 25-pitch first. Not since that scoreless outing against the White Sox back in June had Cotton surrendered less than four runs in a game.

A’s closer Blake Treinen, who recorded a six-out save and combined with fellow reliever Chris Hatcher to bring home the ‘W’ for Cotton, said watching Cotton tame the Astros lineup didn’t surprise him.

“I’d heard of him from before I was even (traded to the A’s), and I’ve seen his stuff. Sometimes as a young pitcher it just takes experience. When things are going really well, you don’t have to think.You just trust it.”

The A’s beat the Astros for just the third time in 15 games this season. On so many occasions, Houston has taken advantage of Oakland mistakes and forced the issue with aggressive baserunning. On Sunday, it was the A’s who dictated things in that fashion.

Center fielder Boog Powell, who went 3-for-4 with a walk from the leadoff spot, led the game off with a single against Brad Peacock (10-2). Then Marcus Semien grounded one toward the hole on the left side. With Powell racing hard into second, Astros shortstop Alex Bregman threw wildly into right field. Powell came around to score, and Semien — advancing all the way to third — came home on the play when Marwin Gonzalez made another throwing error.

Jed Lowrie scored on a passed ball in the sixth to push the A’s lead to 3-1, marking the first time in Oakland history the A’s scored three or more runs in a game without notching a single RBI.

Semien’s mad dash around the bases reminded him of a similar play as a Little Leaguer in El Cerrito, when he circled the bases in the same kind of way on his mother’s birthday. Afterward, she convinced him he’d hit a real homer.

“I got some texts from some old Little League friends about that one today,” Semien said.

It wasn’t conventional, and it didn’t matter. Over the first two games of this series, the A’s had scored one run total and advanced just one runner as far as third base.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's avoid sweep vs Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's avoid sweep vs Astros

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HOUSTON — The A’s experienced a welcome reversal of fortune Sunday in the place that’s been their late-inning house of horrors.

Their bullpen salted away a 3-2 victory over the Astros in a game that had potential heartbreak written all over it.

Three times last season they lost in walk-off fashion at Minute Maid Park. On Sunday, they left the door cracked open by stranding a runner on third in both the seventh and eighth innings, missing out on a chance to add to their slim lead. But recently acquired Chris Hatcher registered a big strikeout of George Springer to end the 7th with the tying run at third. Then Blake Treinen recorded a six-out save to help Oakland avoid a sweep by the American League’s winningest team.

It was a needed morale boost on a weekend in which the A’s received stellar starting pitching but simply couldn’t kick their offense into gear. They mustered just four runs total over the three-game series, but managed to secure a win over Houston for just the third time in 15 meetings this season. It was also just their fifth victory in their past 21 contests at Minute Maid Park.

A LONG DAY’S WORK: The hard-throwing Treinen, acquired from Washington as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade, was nasty in finishing out the final two innings for his fourth save as an Athletic. With Santiago Casilla having struggled in the ninth, the A’s are evaluating whether Treinen might be a long-term answer at closer. After posting a 5.73 ERA with the Nats this season, he entered Sunday with a 2.65 mark in 16 appearances with Oakland.

POWELL PROVIDES A BOOST: Getting a start in the leadoff spot, center fielder Boog Powell went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored a run. His impact was felt most in the first. After leading the game off with a single, he came all the way around to score on a throwing error by Astros shortstop Alex Bregman. Marcus Semien circled all the way around the bases on the play after first baseman Marwin Gonzalez contributed his own throwing error on the same play.

COTTON RESPONDS: Jharel Cotton needed to deliver a strong outing, and the rookie did so against the majors’ most potent offense. He went 6 2/3 innings and held Houston to two runs on four hits. Coming in, the right-hander had been lit up for an 8.06 ERA over his previous five starts.

MAXWELL RECOVERING: Dustin Garneau started behind the plate for the A’s with Bruce Maxwell feeling the effects of a hard foul tip off his mask Saturday night. Maxwell said he had trouble sleeping throughout the night, and the A’s weren’t about to take chances given the concussion issues encountered by some of their catchers in the past. Josh Phegley and John Jaso are two who come to mind.

Maxwell typically would have been in there against a right-hander in Peacock.

“Our training staff has got as good a handle on these things as any training staff, based on the fact that we’ve had to deal with quite a few of them,”Melvin said. “They know the protocol really well. Based on past experiences with these things, we feel like it’s the prudent thing to do.”

IN RELATED NEWS …: A tie-in to Maxwell’s status is the fact that Josh Phegley continues to come along well in his rehab assignment. Returning from a strained oblique, has played three games for Triple-A Nashville. The A’s don’t intend to rush Phegley back, but Melvin suggested that were Maxwell to miss any extended time, Phegley’s timetable for return could be hastened.