HOUSTON -- Shake it off, Gerrit Cole. Your Astros teammates have your back.
Not long after Cole faced a four-run hole by giving up a pair of rare home runs, the Astros erupted for five runs in a whirlwind third inning and didn't let up, securing an 11-4 win over the A's in an American League West showdown on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
"I think he pitched angry the second half of his outing," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "One of the hardest things to do as a pitcher is to give up early runs and then hang in there, especially in a big game and in an important start. … It felt like everything he did that was a shadow of a mistake was getting burned, and he turned it on for the latter half of his outing. The five-run inning helped, and getting him the lead again, he wasn't going to give that up."
The first-place Astros won their sixth consecutive game to bump their lead in the AL West to 2 1/2 games over the second-place A's. Oakland has a 4 1/2-game lead on Seattle for the second Wild Card spot.
"After the five answered [runs], you have to put your foot down," said Cole, who set down 10 of the final 12 batters he faced. "There's no other option there."
The Astros, with George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in the starting lineup together for the first time since June 25, sent 10 batters to the plate and tied a season high with seven hits in the third inning to wipe out a 4-0 deficit.
"We did it without the homer early," Hinch said. "We continued to put up good at-bats, good baserunning and putting pressure on them. There was no letup. When we're going well, we have this extended lineup and this long lineup, where it doesn't matter where we are. We're a threat, and we showed that again tonight. It certainly felt good the guys stepped up and put up crazy-good at-bats."
Springer, Alex Bregman (4-for-5) and Altuve had consecutive one-out RBI doubles to get the scoring started, and each came around to score. Marwin Gonzalez's base knock tied the game, and Tyler White's RBI single scored Gonzalez and put Houston on top, 5-4.
After Josh Reddick made an out to start the third, seven of the next eight Astros hitters reached base with a hit to chase Oakland starter Brett Anderson after 2 2/3 innings. Anderson (3-4) entered the game having allowed two runs in 26 2/3 innings in August.
"That's what this team does," said Bregman, who teamed with White for three-run homers in the eighth. "When one guy gets on, we pass the torch to the next guy and the next guy comes through and so on and so forth. That's what happens. When we're healthy, we're the best in baseball. We're getting healthy, so it's a good start."
• Confused Reddick winds up at third
Cole (12-5), who hadn't allowed a homer in 51 innings, surrendered two two-run shots -- to Marcus Semien in the second inning and Matt Chapman in the third. Those were Cole' first homers allowed since July 4 against the Rangers.
"A lot of people need to know how big Gerrit Cole stepped up," Bregman said. "He didn't have the success he wanted early. Those two shutdown innings after we put up that big inning, that was huge. We passed the torch to our bullpen, which has been lights-out. … I know we only scored in two innings, but we put together great at-bats throughout the lineup."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
White, who wears contact lenses, took a few minutes during his at-bat in the eighth inning to adjust the lens in his right eye. He even summoned head athletic trainer Jeremiah Randall from the dugout to help. Once White regained focused, he stepped back in the batter's box and whacked a three-run homer to left field on the next pitch. He's hitting .342 with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 22 games since the All-Star break.
"It would not clear up," White said. "Usually I get it to clear up pretty quick, and I couldn't get it. I got some rewetting drops to clear it up and I had to take my glove off to move it all the away across my eye and it finally cleared up."
The Astros have scored 23 runs in their last two home games. They had lost nine home games in a row prior to those two games, scoring a total of 25 runs.
Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05 ERA) will try to tie his career high of 14 wins, set last year, when he gets the ball for the Astros in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT game against the A's at Minute Maid Park. He beat Seattle on Wednesday despite allowing six runs in five innings. Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.97) will start for Oakland.