Nick Martini hit a tie-breaking double to center field in the ninth inning and the Oakland Athletics evened the first two games of their three-game series with the Houston Astros with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
In what amounted to a battle of the bullpens, the Athletics reigned supreme, getting 4 1/3 scoreless innings from right-handers Shawn Kelley, Fernando Rodney, Jeurys Familia (8-4), and Blake Treinen, who recorded his 33rd save with a perfect ninth.
Oakland closed the gap in the American League West to two games in the loss column with the rubber match set for Wednesday.
The Astros, who had their six-game winning streak snapped, were up to the task until closer Roberto Osuna (1-2) issued a one-out walk to Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano, and then Jonathan Lucroy followed with a seeing-eye, opposite-field single to right.
Martini hit a ground-rule double on the first pitch, plating Laureano with the go-ahead run.
Trailing 3-1, the Astros pulled even in the fifth inning when third baseman Alex Bregman lined a two-out, two-run double off Oakland starter Edwin Jackson.
Bregman singled again in the eighth with George Springer on base, but Springer was erased at third on a throw from Laureano.
Astros right-hander Charlie Morton flirted with danger by issuing two-out walks in the first and second innings. His control woes came home to roost in the third when, after retiring Martini and Matt Chapman to open that frame, Morton walked Jed Lowrie for a second consecutive time despite getting ahead 0-2 in the count. He then hit Khris Davis with a first-pitch fastball.
Two pitches later, Morton threw a curveball down and in to Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, who drilled the pitch off the facing of the second deck in right field for a three-run homer. That 399-foot blast marked Olson’s 24th home run and provided the Athletics a 3-1 lead.
Morton wasn’t allowed to face Olson for a third time, pulled with two outs in the fifth inning with Lowrie on first base and Olson up to bat.
Astros right-hander Will Harris eliminated any drama with a three-pitch strikeout of Olson, closing the book on Morton, who allowed three runs on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings. Morton finished with 89 pitches.
Jackson also went 4 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and four hits and two walks. He struck out four.
—Field Level Media