HOUSTON -- Rookie center fielder Boog Powell sparked Oakland's offense and rookie right-hander Jharel Cotton pitched 6 2/3 strong innings, helping the A's deny the AL West-leading Astros a three-game sweep with a 3-2 win Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
Powell, acquired by the A's in the Aug. 6 trade that sent Yonder Alonso to Seattle, was 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
• Powell providing spark atop A's lineup
"It's my spot, that's where I feel comfortable," Powell said about leading off. "I love being on the road, being the first hitter of the game, get things going."
Meanwhile, Cotton surrendered just four hits and two runs in picking up his sixth win. It was Cotton's first quality start since June 18.
"Today he was inside the zone," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Cotton. "He didn't walk as many guys as he's walked this year. He did a really good job of staying around the zone enough to not walk us, but also not give us a ton to hit."
Brad Peacock was a hard-luck loser for the Astros, allowing three runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight. The first two runs allowed by Peacock scored courtesy of two Houston errors on a single play in the first, while the third came on a passed ball by catcher Juan Centeno in the sixth. It was just the second loss of the season for Houston's 29-year-old right-hander, who has 10 wins.
"I thought he was pretty good," Hinch said of Peacock. "It wasn't his fault how the game started. He had another good outing, he kept us in the game, and that's what you ask your guys to do. I thought his slider was good and his fastball was good, especially early. I thought he did his job today."
Marwin Gonzalez hit his 21st homer of the season for Houston.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One play, two errors, two runs: With Powell on with a single to open the game, Marcus Semien hit a sharp grounder to Alex Bregman's backhand side at shortstop. Initially, it appeared to be a somewhat routine fielder's choice. But Bregman's throw to second base was wide and sailed into the right-field corner, allowing Powell to score and Semien to round second. The throw home was cut off by first baseman Gonzalez, who attempted to throw to third to cut down Semien. But that attempt also went wide and trickled down the left-field line, enabling Semien to score as well and giving Oakland a 2-0 lead.
"Boog did a really good job of hustling into second to put pressure on Bregman," Semien said. "As a shortstop, that's tough when the guy at first is really fast. Makes you rush. Then I tried to get to third, once I saw the throw going towards home, Marwin did a good job cutting it off, but we were very fortunate."
It's disappointing because they were plays we can't make and we do make," Hinch said. "We put ourselves in a hole."
"Those things happen, it's just baseball," Peacock added. "I just try not to let it get to me, and I try to do my job and go five or six innings. You have to lock back in, pretend like it didn't happen, and just keep attacking."
Bullpen relieves Cotton: After posting only one hit in the first five innings against Cotton, the Astros finally generated threats in the sixth and seventh. In the latter frame, Gonzalez led off with a home run, while Centeno and Jake Marisnick each singled with two outs. But Chris Hatcher, called upon before the Marisnick at-bat to relieve Cotton, struck out the powerful George Springer with two outs to extinguish the rally.
Closer Blake Treinen tossed a pair of scoreless innings to earn his fourth save with Oakland, striking out Marisnick looking to end the game.
"You think you're going to have a higher-scoring game or the opportunity to get back into it, and they did a really good job of keeping us pretty much in check," Hinch said.
Sunday was the latest in a string of frustrating days at the plate for the Astros, who have scored just eight runs in their past four games. More >
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The Astros fell to 14-9 in one-run games, including 2-3 this month after going 12-6 through July.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
With two runners on and one out in the fifth, Hinch successfully challenged a force play at second base to end the inning. Semien lined out to Bregman at shortstop and Bregman flipped the ball to Altuve at second base just as Dustin Garneau dove back head-first. Garneau was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned on replay, becoming an inning-ending double play.
A's: The A's continue their six-game road trip Monday with the opener of a three-game series at Baltimore. Oakland right-hander Chris Smith (0-2, 5.26 ERA) will oppose left-hander Wade Miley (6-10, 5.21). Miley got the best of Smith in the O's 7-2 win Aug. 10.
Astros: Following an off-day Monday, the Astros continue their homestand with three games against the Nationals starting Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (10-5, 3.69) will oppose right-hander Tanner Roark (9-8, 4.70).
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