OAKLAND -- The comeback is complete. The Oakland A's are tied for first place in the American League West. And they did it in style, with a dominant showing in all phases of the game.An untouchable Trevor Cahill allowed only an infield hit through seven innings and the Oakland lineup
OAKLAND -- The comeback is complete. The Oakland A's are tied for first place in the American League West. And they did it in style, with a dominant showing in all phases of the game.
An untouchable Trevor Cahill allowed only an infield hit through seven innings and the Oakland lineup battered Dallas Keuchel and the Astros' pitching staff with a season-high eight doubles as the A's seized a share of the division lead for the first time in 2018 with a 7-1 victory over Houston on Saturday at the Coliseum.
"I feel like the energy that we have in the dugout and in the clubhouse, it's felt like we've been in first place for two months," catcher Josh Phegley said. "That's how I feel. Every day, we show up ready to play. We have fun, we enjoy it. We're just playing for each other and having fun playing the game of baseball."
The A's were 10 games back of the Astros on July 10 but have gone 23-8 since then to tie the defending World Series champions atop the division. Oakland is now a season-high 25 games above .500 and owns a share of the division lead outside the month of April for the first time since Aug. 25, 2014.
With first place firmly in reach of the A's after their dramatic Friday night comeback, Cahill rose to the occasion and pitched one of the finest games of his career. He allowed only a second-inning infield single to Yuli Gurriel before retiring the next 14 Astros in order.
"I think it was like the eighth [inning], and I saw that they only had one hit, and I was trying to think back to what it was and I couldn't remember it," Phegley said. "I really couldn't."
He struck out seven and faced only one batter over the minimum. Cahill improved to 4-0 with an 0.85 ERA in eight home starts since he rejoined the A's in April.
Cahill felt particularly good about his curveball, which induced five swinging strikes on Saturday.
"I was able to throw it for strikes early on and I wasn't trying to do too much," Cahill said. "I was able to put that extra gear on the two-strike ones for some putaway pitches."
"He dominated us," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "He was clearly doing whatever he wanted to with the ball. He could cut it, sink it. He threw changeups. When they got the lead, he pitched pretty aggressively and we chased. He controlled the game."
• A's honor historic 2002 team before big win
The lone blemish of an otherwise spotless afternoon for the A's came on a Tony Kemp solo homer with one out in the ninth off A's reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
On the other side, Oakland's eight doubles matched the team's single-game record. Khris Davis' two-run double in the first inning off Keuchel gave the A's an early lead, and every Oakland hit after the second inning was a two-bagger, including four doubles in a three-run sixth inning that chased Keuchel.
Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Phegley each knocked a pair of doubles, and Phegley drove in a season-high three runs.
Though the A's have been chasing the Astros for the last several months, there's no sense that anything will change for them now that they've, well, chased Houston down. There are still 39 games left to play, after all.
"I really don't think we're chasing anything," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just playing. We know where we are in the standings. We're one game better than we were yesterday. I don't think there's any pause at a certain time where this team says, 'Oh, look where we are now.'"
The A's improved to 15-2 this season with Phegley behind the plate.
"I just think my role as a backup, I don't want it to just be [Jonathan] Lucroy's day off and I just fill in," Phegley said. "I want us to feel like I give us a good chance to win as well, and we've got a good catching tandem, and we've collectively handled the staff really well and our pitchers are doing great, so I feel like we can win every day."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the fifth inning, Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis lifted a shallow fly ball down the right-field line that Piscotty caught on a dive that sent him sprawling into foul territory. According to Statcast™, he covered 95 feet in an opportunity time of 5.1 seconds for a three-star catch.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Phegley appeared to hit into a double play to end the second inning, but the A's challenged the call at first base and got it overturned, resulting in a fielder's choice. Marcus Semien popped out on the next pitch to end the inning.
BLACKWOOD TO TIGERS AS PART OF FIERS DEAL
The A's announced Saturday that they sent right-handed pitcher Nolan Blackwood to the Tigers as one of two players to be named in the Aug. 6 trade that brought pitcher Mike Fiers to Oakland.
Blackwood, a 14th-round selection by the A's in the 2016 MLB Draft, was Oakland's No. 30 prospect per MLB Pipeline. The 23-year-old right-hander was 6-3 with a 4.08 ERA and nine saves in 39 relief appearances this season for Double-A Midland.
The A's can clinch sole possession of first with a win on Sunday, and they'll turn to lefty Sean Manaea (11-8, 3.44 ERA) in the 1:05 p.m. PT series finale at the Coliseum against the Astros, who will counter with right-hander Justin Verlander (11-8, 2.52). Manaea is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA since the start of June and pitched into the eighth inning against the Mariners on Monday, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.