Houston's bullpen struggles again

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 5-3 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a humiliating loss on Tuesday to even the series with Oakland and leave their magic number stagnant, Houston was back in action Wednesday night trying to get back in the win column. Here is a recap of the third of four games in this series with the A's:

Final Score: A's 5, Astros 3.

Record: 95-52, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Josh James (5-1, 5.20 ERA).

1) Urquidy fills in with a great start


With Miley lasting just one out the night before with the bullpen filling the other 26, and Wednesday already slated to be a bullpen day, Houston looked to Jose Urquidy to cover as many innings as possible. He met the call in a significant way, tossing a great game to keep his team in position to win.

Urquidy was sharp and efficient, only allowing one hit and one walk over his five innings of work while recording double-digit strikeouts. Although the one hit was a game-tying solo home run in the fourth inning, it was still a terrific start. His final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR.

2) Oakland pulls ahead in the sixth


Urquidy would leave in line for the win after his offense gave him a 2-1 lead. The first run came by way of a dinger by George Springer, a solo shot in the bottom of the third to put Houston ahead 1-0 at the time. After Oakland tied the game 1-1 in the top half of the fourth, Houston regained the lead in the bottom half with Yordan Alvarez reaching on an infield single then scoring on an RBI-double by Aledmys Diaz, making it a 2-1 Astros advantage.

Josh James took over for Urquidy to start the sixth inning, but like many of Houston's pitchers the day before would struggle with Oakland's batters. He allowed three runs without recording an out before Houston would move on to another pitcher. Joe Smith would get out of the inning, but not without allowing a fourth run to extend Oakland's lead to 5-2.

3) Houston gets one run back, but come up short

Houston got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out solo home run by Martin Maldonado, trimming the lead to two runs at 5-3. Hector Rondon was the next reliever out for Houston and was able to work around a one-out walk to toss a scoreless frame.

Will Harris pitched the top of the eighth and although he battled against a double and a walk, was able to keep Oakland from extending their lead. With the Astros unable to score in the seventh or eighth, the sent Bryan Abreu to the mount in the ninth to try and keep it a two-run game and give them a chance to walk it off in the bottom half.

Abreu looked great, getting a couple of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning. Houston would come up empty in the bottom half, dropping the game and giving Oakland a 2-1 advantage in the four-game series.

Up Next: The final game in this series will be Thursday night with another 7:10 PM start. The Astros will look to Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52 ERA) for another gem to split the series with a win, while Oakland will send Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) to the mound.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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