Astros' slide ends at 6 with twin-bill split

September 9th, 2020

Maybe that’s what it will take to get the Astros back on track. Perhaps rallying from four runs down in a ballpark where nothing has gone right for them this year will serve as the catalyst for them to make one final charge in the division.

The Astros didn’t do much offensively against the A’s -- they had one extra-base hit and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position -- but a series of terrific at-bats with the bases loaded, including a tiebreaking sacrifice fly by in the seventh and final inning, was enough to turn back the A’s, 5-4, in Game 2 of a doubleheader Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

“It feels great,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s a relief because losing streaks go on a life of their own and you start wondering what can happen next, and it was happening to us on a regular basis.”

The Astros, who pushed across four runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, two bases-loaded walks and an infield single by , snapped a six-game losing streak and got back within 4 1/2 games of the first-place A’s in the American League West. Houston lost Game 1 of the doubleheader, 4-2.

“I think a lot of stuff hasn’t really gone our way this trip,” Springer said. “That’s a really, really good team over there. For us to kind of take it on the chin in the first game and then to come back and be down early and scratch and claw back is huge.”

The Astros have two head-to-head meetings remaining against the A’s, on Wednesday and Thursday, before playing at the Dodgers on Saturday and Sunday. The schedule softens dramatically in the final two weeks, and Baker hopes the comeback win will be a springboard.

“It feels great,” he said. “We’ve still got a chance to overtake these guys. We win tomorrow and win the next day and we’re back to 2 1/2 [games back]. We need these next two games before we have an off-day and tackle a tough L.A. team. Tomorrow is another big game for us.”

Astros right-hander , who was playing for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters earlier this summer, made his first start in the big leagues since 2018 and gave up four runs in three innings. Most of the damage came on one pitch to Matt Olson, who cranked a mammoth three-run homer down the right-field line to make it 4-0 in the third inning.

“Quite frankly, that’s the best I’ve ever felt on a big league mound, and I’m going to build off of that,” De Jong said. “I’m happy with the way I threw the ball, other than the one mistake to Olson.”

The Astros appeared headed for their seventh loss in a row, but the A’s did their best to give the lead away in the fourth. Here’s how Houston rallied with the bases loaded and one out against Yusmeiro Petit:

• Carlos Correa was hit by a 1-2 pitch, forcing home Myles Straw with the first run.

• After Aledmys Díaz flied out, Abraham Toro drew a walk in a seven-pitch at-bat to score Michael Brantley and cut the lead to 4-2.

• Dustin Garneau, the No. 9 hitter, drew a walk on four pitches to force home Kyle Tucker and make it 4-3.

• Springer, the ninth batter of the inning, beat out an infield hit to score Correa and tie the game.

“That’s not going to happen too much,” Baker said. “They’ve got a very good bullpen over there. We’ve got to take the gifts when you can take them. I haven’t seen Petit get that wild ever. That was a big victory for us, and we’ll take it no matter how we came about getting it.”