August 31, 2016 / 10:31 PM / in a year

Astros complete sweep of A's

Astros complete sweep of A’s

HOUSTON -- Oakland Athletics left-hander Ross Detwiler had shackled the Astros lineup so effectively that the lone hope for the Astros seemingly was to ride him out and take their chances against the first reliever to emerge from the Oakland bullpen. That reliever was right-hander Liam Hendriks, and that gambit worked to perfection.

Jose Altuve drilled a game-tying RBI triple and Evan Gattis added a run-scoring single two batters later as the Houston Astros fashioned a two-out, eighth-inning rally into a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (71-62) completed the three-game series sweep and a 5-1 homestand with their improbable comeback, suddenly coming alive against Hendriks (0-3) after Detwiler ruthlessly strangled the life out of them for seven exceptional innings.

George Springer, 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Detwiler, ignited the rally with a triple to center field and scored when Alex Bregman reached base on a wild pitch after swinging through a third strike. Altuve, also 0-for-3 against Detwiler, followed with his triple to right-center field, scoring Bregman to tie the game at 3-3.

“That was all on me,” Hendriks said. “Bad pitches, I hung some stuff. I got some good pitches in there early but then wasn’t able to finish them late. Just wasn’t able to pull it off and that’s completely on me.”

Following Hendriks’ intentional walk to Carlos Correa, Gattis slapped the first pitch he saw into left field to score Altuve and complete the rally. Five consecutive batters reached base with two outs. Astros closer Ken Giles completed four hitless innings from the Houston bullpen by recording his seventh save.

”Every win is big, but this one was big for us,“ Altuve said. ”It keeps our momentum going. We’re really playing really good ball. We’ve got to keep going.

“We always know we have a chance to come back and win games. That’s what makes it so good.”

Detwiler was magnificent, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over seven innings. He had scuffled through his previous three starts, surrendering 14 earned runs over 14 innings while taking the loss each time. Against the Astros, he allowed an RBI double to Correa that scored Bregman with one out in the fourth inning but was otherwise untouchable.

Yulieski Gurriel grounded into an inning-ending double play to close the fourth inning and Detwiler followed by retiring nine of the final 10 batters he faced.

“Yeah he pitched great,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “Similar to the first game he pitched for us (against Baltimore on Aug. 10). That’s a tough lineup, all right-handed hitters to go through. Pitched well.”

The Athletics (57-76) took advantage of a fielding error by Correa to scratch across three runs in the second off right-hander Mike Fiers. Jake Smolinski delivered a two-run triple immediately after Joey Wendle reached on the error, and Bruce Maxwell followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Smolinski for a 3-0 Oakland lead.

Fiers wobbled through five innings but limited the damage to the uprising in the second. By extending his start to 15 outs, Fiers enabled the Astros to set up their bullpen to succeed, with right-hander Michael Feliz (8-1) earning the win in relief.

“That’s how this team is -- we don’t stop,” said Fiers, who allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. “We battle. No one takes their at-bats off, no one takes pitches off, and we just find ways to win. It’s always fun watching this team, and it should be good going forward.”

NOTES: Oakland announced the trade of OF Coco Crisp to the Indians in exchange for LHP Colt Hynes. The transaction also included cash considerations going to Cleveland. ... Athletics 2B Joey Wendle made his major league debut following his recall from Triple-A Nashville. ... The Astros won’t announce roster additions until Friday but manager A.J. Hinch expects at least two relievers and perhaps OF Preston Tucker to be a part of the initial wave. Tucker (right shoulder sprain) is currently on a rehab assignment, having landed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 12. Astros RHP Brad Peacock, a third catcher and maybe an additional pitcher will join the club next week when the minor league season concludes. ... Athletics LHP Sean Doolittle is set to rejoin the club in Oakland this weekend following another encouraging rehab appearance on Tuesday night at Triple-A. Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 26 with a strained left shoulder.

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