Gattis' 2 jacks, wild finish fuel Astros' sweep

September 21st, 2016

OAKLAND -- The Astros were hoping to take advantage of a more favorable schedule down the stretch in their push for the playoffs. So far, so good.

Designated hitter cranked his 29th and 30th homers of the season, and won his fifth consecutive decision to send the Astros to a 6-5 win Wednesday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum to polish off a three-game sweep of the A's.

"We're really taking this one game at time, which is the worst cliche you can use at this time of year, but it's the reality of how we show up every day," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "In trying to win today's game, we try to focus on ourselves and not on what's going on around us. We know if we win, good things can happen to us."

The Astros, who have won six of their last seven games, are one game behind the Orioles for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

Astros catcher threw out pinch-runner at second base on a caught stealing to end the game. The A's scored a run in the ninth on a two-out ground ball off the bat of that went through the legs of second baseman for an error to cut the lead to 6-5, but the caught stealing, which went to a crew-chief review, stood to end the game.

"What would be the last game here in Oakland this year without a bit of drama?" Hinch said. "That is an incredible game for us. We kept fighting and keep trying to tack on some runs. They never quit; credit to them. Obviously at the end there, the guys they had coming up to bat, it was a very stressful environment. What a way to end it."

McHugh (12-10) allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings to improve to 5-0 in his last six starts. RBI doubles by in the fourth and in the sixth accounted for the runs against McHugh.

"There were a lot of plays in this game that were just a few inches one way or another, and if we get them, probably talking about a different game right now," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But we didn't."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Gatty bombs: Gattis' second-half power surge continues. He walloped a two-run homer in the sixth of A's starter and then blasted a solo homer to center in the eighth off . Gattis has 30 homers in 418 at-bats, including eight against the A's. Per Statcast™, the homer off Neal was projected to travel 439 feet and was 110.6 mph off the bat. It was the 100th home run of Gattis' career. More >

"I'm really proud of him," Hinch said. "Thirty home runs is a big deal. It means he's stuck it out the entire year and been very productive."

Bruce's bat: Maxwell continued to swing a hot bat, knocking McHugh out of the game with a two-out double in the sixth that plated for the club's second run of the day. The A's rookie catcher has 14 hits and nine RBIs in his last 12 games, after beginning his big league career 4-for-32.

Springer's mad dash: 's speed hasn't translated into much success stealing bases this year, but his daring dash home in the seventh was a reminder of how dangerous he can be on the bases. He was at third base with one out and the infield drawn in when he darted home after A's shortstop fielded a Yulieski Gurriel grounder and threw to first. Springer slid headfirst to beat to the tag at the plate by a hair on a call that was confirmed following replay review.

"That's a situation there where I was just trying to make a play," Springer said. "I understand they could throw the ball around a little bit and I had some success with that earlier, and I just figured now is the time to take a risk and it worked out." More >

Mengden's mixed bag: Mengden, a fourth-round Draft pick of the Astros in 2014, was perfect a first time through the order, retiring each of his first 10 batters while racking up four of his seven strikeouts in that span. The right-hander struck out the side in the fourth to work around a pair of baserunners, but the tide turned in the fifth, when two walks and a wild pitch helped Houston tie the game at 1 before the Astros took control with a three-run sixth. Mengden fell to 0-7 in eight starts at the Coliseum.

"I was locating my first-pitch strikes really well, and I'm feeling more and more comfortable with every outing," Mengden said. "I don't know if it's just staying a little more focused mentally or making sure I make good pitches, it just comes down to executing in big counts when you're facing the heart of the order like them. You can't make mistakes."

QUOTABLE

"He's not called 'The White Bear' for nothing." -- , on Gattis' power surge

ANOTHER HIT FOR ALTUVE

Altuve was awarded an extra hit when Major League Baseball overturned an official scorer's decision from Friday's game in Seattle and awarded him a single on a ball that was originally scored an error on Mariners third baseman . Altuve has 203 hits after going 2-for-5 on Wednesday.

WHAT'S NEXT

Astros: Right-hander (11-7, 4.46 ERA) will start Thursday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Fiers is coming off one of his best outings of the season in which he held the Mariners scoreless for six innings Saturday in Seattle.

Athletics: Right-hander will be on the mound Friday when the A's open a three-game set against the Rangers for their final home series of the season. Graveman went 5 1/3 innings in Texas on Friday, allowing four runs on seven hits. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. PT at the Coliseum.

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