OAKLAND -- The Astros tagged A's right-hander Sonny Gray for five runs in the first inning Tuesday evening, holding on for an 8-4 victory at the Coliseum to take the first two games of a four-game series.George Springer jump-started the early rally with his eighth leadoff homer of the season
OAKLAND -- The Astros tagged A's right-hander Sonny Gray for five runs in the first inning Tuesday evening, holding on for an 8-4 victory at the Coliseum to take the first two games of a four-game series.
George Springer jump-started the early rally with his eighth leadoff homer of the season and 21st overall. Houston sent 10 men to the plate in the 38-pitch inning, which featured RBI doubles from Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel and a two-run single off the bat of Alex Bregman.
"Our at-bats were exceptional," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Springer sets the tone with the big home run, and then we continued to do some positive things against [Gray] and put up positive at-bats."
Gray battled his way through five innings, finishing at 108 pitches, but remained winless over his last five starts with a 6.43 ERA. On the other side, rookie right-hander Francis Martes recorded the win for Houston, holding the A's to three runs on six hits, including Chad Pinder's third-inning solo homer, across 5 2/3 innings in his second Major League start. The Astros, who got a solo homer from Carlos Beltran in the ninth, have won eight in a row at the Coliseum.
"In the first, I kind of got away from the game plan a little bit and started to leave some balls kind of over the middle more," Gray said. "After that, I was able to battle through a couple innings and get through five, but I really dug us a big hole there. Against a team like that, giving them a five-spot in the first, it's tough on the rest of the guys.
"My stuff is good; my stuff is there. Going forward, it's going to be a mentality thing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Under pressure: Martes, Houston's top prospect, buckled down under pressure on multiple occasions. The A's went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position under his watch, finishing 1-for-13 overall. In the fifth inning, Martes issued a one-out walk to Jaycob Brugman, who advanced to second on a passed ball, but Martes responded by striking out Pinder and Jed Lowrie to end the frame. Martes then yielded a leadoff double to Khris Davis in the sixth -- the designated hitter's third hit of the night -- and watched him move to third on an ensuing ground-ball out. But Davis stayed put, as Martes struck out Ryon Healy, before lefty Tony Sipp came on to retire Josh Phegley to maintain a 5-3 lead.
"In the strike zone, his stuff plays, especially in the big moments," Hinch said. "If he's got multiple ways to get guys out, he's very tough to hit." More >
Adding on: After the A's narrowed Houston's lead to one run in the seventh on Brugman's RBI single, the Astros responded with two in the eighth to distance themselves yet again. Right-hander Liam Hendriks allowed a leadoff double to Bregman and issued two walks to load the bases, setting the stage for Carlos Correa's two-out base hit that brought in a pair of insurance runs.
"You have to hold them down the entire game, especially with their pitching," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We kept going and found some good at-bats and scored some runs, got ourselves back in the game. Obviously the two runs that they put up off Hendriks kind of deflates you a little bit, but the guys fought back, battled hard. Just gave up too many runs in the first inning."
A's right-hander Michael Brady, selected from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday, was called on to pitch the ninth inning for his Major League debut. The 30-year-old surrendered Beltran's home run before retiring each of his next two batters. He then hit Jake Marisnick with a pitch, but the outfielder was quickly wiped off the bases caught stealing.
"It's kind of an out-of-body experience," Melvin said. "You're out there for your first time, you're just trying to find the strike zone and then Beltran hits a home run. Not a velocity guy but kind of a subtle late-movement guy, and we saw some good cutters."
Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers will look to continue his run of strong starts at 9:05 p.m. CT Wednesday at the Coliseum. Fiers has allowed just five earned runs over his last four starts, going 3-0 with 24 strikeouts.
A's: Lefty Sean Manaea, who is 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts, will be back in action Wednesday for a 7:05 p.m. PT start against the Astros at the Coliseum. Manaea is 0-1 despite a 1.71 ERA in five career starts opposite Houston.
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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.
Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.