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Astros turn away A's with 6 double plays

August 19, 2017

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh threw six scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season, and the Astros turned a season-high six double plays to secure their fourth victory in five games, 3-0, over the A's on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-run, bases-loaded

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh threw six scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season, and the Astros turned a season-high six double plays to secure their fourth victory in five games, 3-0, over the A's on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-run, bases-loaded single in the fourth to back McHugh (1-2), who held Oakland to six hits (five singles) while benefiting from three double plays in six innings. Francisco Liriano, Joe Musgrove and Tyler Clippard each threw an inning to finish Houston's seventh shutout of the season.
"As the game went on, I got a little bit more efficient with my pitches, with my fastball," said McHugh, who missed the first 3 1/2 months of the season after an elbow injury in the spring. "It's something every pitcher is going to work on. Every pitcher is going to say they need to keep working on it, because it really is the foundation of an outing."

McHugh was in a lot of three-ball counts and couldn't command his breaking ball early, but he found a way to get through with no damage.
"They really made him work, and he had a really high pitch count, deep counts early on," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When he found the feel for his breaking ball, that was good. His fastball was pretty good. They swung a little bit earlier in the count. I was really happy with how he ended his outing, last three innings."
The Astros' sixth double play ended the game on a crew-chief review. It's the most double plays turned by an American League team this year, one shy of the Astros' franchise record.

"A little different way to end the game, but I'm certainly glad we got it right," Hinch said.
The Astros hold a 13-game lead over the Angels for first place in the AL West. Houston improved to 19-2 against the A's since July 20, 2016, including 12-2 this season.
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"Just not very good swings at times," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You've got to give [McHugh] some credit. He threw the ball pretty well, but I expect us to hit the balls harder than we did tonight."
A's starter Kendall Graveman (3-4) delivered a quality start, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings and fell to 1-4 in six road starts this year. Alex Bregman added a solo homer in the eighth -- his 15th -- off reliever Ryan Dull.

Green light: Graveman walked the first two batters he faced in the fourth and gave up a single to Yuli Gurriel to load the bases with no outs for Gonzalez, who worked a 3-0 count. Despite Graveman's control issues, Gonzalez swung at the next pitch and hit a single off Jed Lowrie and into right field to score Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick to put the Astros ahead, 2-0.
"Unfortunately, just out of Jed's reach," said A's catcher Bruce Maxwell. "That base hit scored two and not just one, so it kind of unfolded."

Hinch said Gonzalez had a green light.
"There's a great risk in swinging 3-0 because there's some upside in the walk and some upside in making the pitcher throw three strikes, but there's some upside in breaking open the game, too," Hinch said. "I want the opponent to know they still have to make a pitch when it's 3-0. There are no free strikes when you come to Houston."
Graveman's sinker doesn't slow Astros
Quick feet: Gonzalez provided one of the biggest defensive plays of the night in the sixth, when he turned a nifty double play. He fielded a Lowrie grounder behind second base, and beat Marcus Semien in a footrace to the bag. Gonzalez threw to first base while stepping on second, getting just enough on the one-hop throw to Gurriel.

"Great game behind the plate. He cares so much about his pitchers, and every time he makes a call that doesn't go his way, he takes it personal. I love how convicted he is working with the pitchers." -- Hinch, on catcher Juan Centeno
Bregman joins Carlos Correa (2016), Cesar Cedeno (1972-73) and Jimmy Wynn (1965) as the only players in franchise history with 30 doubles and 15 homers in a season prior to age 24.
• Hinch unsuccessfully challenged a play at the plate in the fifth inning when Bregman was called out trying to score from second on a single by Altuve.

• Altuve was called safe while attempting to steal his second base of the game in the eighth inning. After a 61-second review, the call was overturned and Altuve was caught stealing.

Athletics: Right-hander Jharel Cotton (5-10, 5.92 ERA) will close out the three-game series against the Astros at 11:10 a.m. PT Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Cotton is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA in two career starts against Houston.
Astros: Right-hander Brad Peacock (10-1, 3.30 ERA) will start Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the A's at Minute Maid Park. As a starter this year, Peacock is 7-1 with a 3.73 ERA in 14 games, striking out 95 in 72 2/3 innings. Preview >>
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.**.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for based in Houston and covered the A's on Saturday.