Houston loses in Oakland

Astros drop opener to A's after late barrage against their bullpen

The Astros suffered a lopsided loss to the A's on Friday after a late barrage against their bullpen. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After taking three of four against the Angels in Anaheim and getting a little help from Seattle, who swept Oakland in their four-game set, the Astros entered Friday's series opener with a magic number of 3. It would not move from there in this one, as the A's would destroy Houston's bullpen late in the game to hand them a lopsided loss.

Final Score: A's 14, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 91-63, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (13-9)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-4)

Houston strikes first, but Oakland gets a big third off Bielak

Houston benefited from an error to start this series, with Jose Altuve reaching base and getting to third base. Yuli Gurriel would bring him home, getting a sac fly to put the Astros in front 1-0. Altuve scored against in the top of the third, this time doing it himself with a leadoff solo homer to start the frame and double the lead to 2-0.

To that point, Brandon Bielak, who made the emergency start for Zack Greinke, who was a late scratch, had been able to keep Oakland at bay, erasing two singles in the first then tossing a 1-2-3 second. They got to him in the third, though, as back-to-back one-out walks proved costly as the A's would rip off two RBI singles and a sac fly to go in front 3-2 against him. He would finish that inning, but that would be it for him, with Houston moving on to the bullpen.

Astros drop the opener as Oakland breaks it open late

Peter Solomon, who was activated with Greinke landing on the IL, was the reliever who took over for Bielak starting in the bottom of the fourth. He was impressive, erasing singles in the fourth and sixth for three scoreless innings. Meanwhile, other than the homer by Altuve off of him, the Astros weren't able to get anything significant going against Frankie Montas, who made it through the seventh while maintaining the 3-2 advantage for Oakland, despite Houston getting the tying run on third with one out in the seventh.

Yimi Garcia was Houston's next reliever in the bottom of the seventh, but it was a rough inning for him, as he would give up two singles and a walk while getting one out before giving up a two-RBI double, giving Oakland insurance runs. Things spiraled incredibly out of control from there for Houston's bullpen, as Brooks Raley would come in to try and end the inning but instead allowed a grand slam to make it a 9-2 game.

It didn't get better for Seth Martinez in the bottom of the eighth, as he would also struggle as Oakland's offense continued to mash, giving up a bases-loaded walk, an RBI single, and a bases-clearing double to extend the A's lead to 14-2, putting things well out of reach. Despite loading the bases in the top of the ninth, the Astros would not get any closer, losing by twelve runs as their magic number stays stuck at 3.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will get underway at 3:07 PM Central on Saturday, and the expected pitching matchup is Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.05 ERA) for the A's and Framber Valdez (11-5, 3.07 ERA) for the Astros.

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