By MICHAEL WAGAMAN , Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Consecutive losses to the Oakland Athletics have muted whatever momentum the AL-leading Astros built with their seven-game winning streak this week.
This one was a little more concerning to manager A.J. Hinch for a variety of reasons.
Houston’s bullpen forced in five runs with bases-loaded walks and the team tied a franchise record with 13 free passes, costing the Astros in their second straight loss to the A’s, 11-1 in a doubleheader opener Saturday.
“It wasn’t a good game for us,” Hinch said. “Certainly, it probably looks a lot worse than it was for most of the game. It wasn’t our day. They beat us on all facets of the game this game.”
Oakland led 3-1 before Tyler Clippard issued the first bases-loaded walk to Jed Lowrie in the sixth inning. Reymin Guduan brought in three more while allowing five straight walks on 28 pitches in the eighth. Infielder J.D. Davis relieved Guduan and struck out Marcus Semien and Khris Davis, but also allowed another run by walking Chad Pinder.
Houston tied the franchise mark for walks set on May 4, 1975 against the San Francisco Giants. The Astros entered the series with a seven-game winning streak, and their magic number remains at eight.
“It’s coming down to it,” losing pitcher Charlie Morton said. “I think we really just want to finish the year going in the playoffs on our own streak, get in a groove and continue on in October.”
Morton (11-7) took the loss by allowing three runs in five innings.
Daniel Gossett (4-8) had a career-high seven strikeouts and allowed one run over six-plus innings for his first win since Aug. 2 and the A’s third straight overall.
“Maybe not his best command at times, got behind some guys, but made some big pitches when he had to,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You looked up, there were a lot of 2-1, 2-0 counts, but he was able to recover.”
Khris Davis hit a two-run single in the sixth to become the first Oakland player in nearly 15 years with 100 RBIs or more in consecutive seasons. Davis has 101 RBIs this season after he drove in 102 in 2016, the first A’s player to have 100 or more in back-to-back seasons since Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada in 2002-03.
Alex Bregman doubled in the Astros’ run. It’s only the second time in the past 20 games that Houston has been held under two runs.
Morton struck out three straight batters following a leadoff double in the first but allowed three runs in the second when the Astros made a pair of errors. Morton made one of them when he bobbled Semien’s soft comebacker and was late throwing to the plate.
“That’s not frustrating when errors happen … it is when you make the error,” Morton said. “It’s frustrating when you can’t make pitches.”
J.D. Davis ran his fastball up to 93 mph, and even mixed in a changeup and breaking ball while striking out Khris Davis. It was the second pitching appearance this year for the Astros infielder, and he’s struck out three of the seven batters he’s faced. He also punched out Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo in a game Aug. 29.
The second half of the doubleheader was a makeup for an April 16 game that was rained out — the first at the Coliseum since 2014.
Astros: Catcher Juan Centeno was being examined for a concussion after being hit in the head by Lowrie’s bat on a follow-through swing in the second inning. Max Stassi replaced Centeno. … Evan Gattis was activated off the disabled list after being out due to soreness in his right wrist and is scheduled to DH on Sunday. The veteran catcher went on the DL five days after coming off it following a three-week stint due to a concussion.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (12-3, 2.88 ERA) pitches the finale for the Astros on Sunday while the A’s counter with RHP Kendall Graveman (4-4, 4.70 ERA). Keuchel is 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season.
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