Houston's winning streak ends

Astros drop opener to A's in back-and-forth battle

Houston's bullpen couldn't hold back Oakland on Tuesday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a successful ten-game homestand where they went 8-2 to climb back to a half-game deficit in the division standings, the Astros arrived at Oakland Coliseum Tuesday night to face the A's. A win would put them back on top of the AL West, but their bullpen would not be up for the job Tuesday night, allowing the A's to take the opener.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 24-18, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (5-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-2)

Alvarez and Tucker provide early runs, Oakland matches against Javier

The Astros began this series the same way they won several of their games over their recent hot streak: jumping out to an early lead. With two outs in the top of the first, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel reached base on back-to-back hits, bringing Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who would drive both in on a two-RBI double to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

Kyle Tucker continued the tear he has been on by crushing a leadoff solo homer 459 feet in the top of the fourth. Although Cristian Javier would only allow five hits over his six innings, three of them were costly. He allowed two solo homers to Ramon Laureano, one in the bottom of the first and another in the bottom of the fourth, both cutting the lead to one run at the time.

Nearing the end of his night, it looked as though he might leave in line with the win with two strikeouts to start the bottom of the sixth, but a third solo homer by Oakland would tie the game before Javier finished the frame. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 3 HR, 95 P.

Houston's bullpen can't finish the job

That set up a battle of the bullpens for the final three innings. Houston regained the lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would move to third then scored on consecutive sac flies, making it a 5-3 game. Enoli Paredes took over for Javier in the bottom of the seventh but would get just one out while loading the bases on a single and two walks, which prompted Dusty Baker to make a quick switch to Andre Scrubb. Scrubb allowed a sacrifice fly to bring Oakland back within a run at 5-4 but would hold them there to finish the inning.

Ryne Stanek took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth. A leadoff walk would bite him, as it would become the game-tying run on an RBI-double with one out. He wouldn't get through the inning, getting just another out before the Astros moved on to Bryan Abreu, who put an end to the inning on one pitch.

After a scoreless top half by their offense, Houston sent Abreu back out to try and force extras. A one-out walk would put the winning runner on base, who moved to third on a single. Laureano would bring in another run, this one the biggest, on a walk-off sac fly, moving Oakland up to 1.5 games ahead of Houston in the division.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:40 PM Central start on Wednesday. Frankie Montas (5-2, 4.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Oakland, while Zack Greinke (3-1, 4.18 ERA) will make the start for Houston.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

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