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Astros' late rally seals series win over A's

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Astros manager AJ Hinch preaches the importance of taking the extra 90 feet, whether that means going first to third base, second to home or simply advancing on a ground ball. An extra base by the offense typically means an extra throw the defense has to make, which increases the likelihood of mistakes.

The seventh inning of the Astros' 8-4 win over the A's on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park served as prime example of why Hinch stresses aggressive baserunning. The Astros pushed the tempo on the bases, scoring three times with the help of three Oakland errors to pull away and win the series.

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HOUSTON -- Astros manager AJ Hinch preaches the importance of taking the extra 90 feet, whether that means going first to third base, second to home or simply advancing on a ground ball. An extra base by the offense typically means an extra throw the defense has to make, which increases the likelihood of mistakes.

The seventh inning of the Astros' 8-4 win over the A's on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park served as prime example of why Hinch stresses aggressive baserunning. The Astros pushed the tempo on the bases, scoring three times with the help of three Oakland errors to pull away and win the series.

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"We are aggressive and we want to put pressure on them, and we did put pressure on them and got a few extra opportunities to make them handle the ball and make some acrobatic throws," Hinch said.

Video: OAK@HOU: Altuve lays down bunt to score Marisnick

The Astros (19-10) have tied last year's team for the club's best record through 29 games, with an American League Championship Series rematch with the Yankees beginning Monday at Minute Maid Park.

"It's been a great April for us," Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole said.

Cole, who struck out 12 batters and allowed three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, set a club record with 61 strikeouts in April. He left the game with a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning and the tying run at second base before reliever Will Harris gave up a single to Jonathan Lucroy, allowing the tying run to score.

A's starter Trevor Cahill was pulled after he walked Alex Bregman to start the seventh, and the chaos began. Bregman stole second and took third on a throwing error by Lucroy. He then scored the go-ahead run when shortstop Marcus Semien dropped a popup off the bat of pinch-hitter Brian McCann.

Video: OAK@HOU: Bregman scores on Semien's error

"Part of our effective offense comes with some athleticism and with some aggressive baserunning," Hinch said. "I think it's been an underrated part of our season so far, is how aggressive we have been first to third, how aggressive we've been on some reads. In this series, taking an extra 90 feet or being given an extra 90 was huge."

McCann, of course, isn't known as being athletic, but he scored all the way from first for the second time this season on an RBI double by Jake Marisnick, with the veteran catcher sliding home just ahead of the tag. Marisnick went to third on a throwing error by pitcher Ryan Dull and scored on Altuve's single for a 6-3 lead.

"I'm running as fast as I can, which is brutal, but I'm running until [third-base coach Gary Pettis] stops me," McCann said. "I don't score many times from first base. It felt good."

SOUND SMART
The Astros' plus-66 run differential is a franchise record through 20 games. The previous record was plus-56 in 2004.

Video: OAK@HOU: Springer launches a solo home run to center

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
McCann had a Sprint Speed of 23.6 feet per second when scoring from first base in the seventh inning. That's above his season average of 22 feet per second (league average if 27). His first-to-home time was 12.39 seconds.

HE SAID IT
"Fortunately, I stacked a few good games in a row, so it's nice to get off to a good start." -- Cole, on striking out 61 batters, walking only eight and posting a 1.73 ERA in 41 ⅔ innings in April

Video: OAK@HOU: Cole K's 12 in impressive outing vs. A's

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Astros catcher Max Stassi's fly ball that went off the glove of A's right-fielder Stephen Piscotty and into the seats in the fifth inning appeared to be a home run, but Stassi was ruled out because of fan interference. The umpires reviewed the play and replay confirmed the call that a fan had touched Piscotty's glove, and Stassi was out.

Video: OAK@HOU: Stassi flies out after fan interference

UP NEXT
Charlie Morton, who beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last fall, faces the Yankees in Monday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener at Minute Maid Park. He's 17-7 with a 3.33 ERA in 30 career starts with the Astros. Right-hander Sonny Gray (1-1, 7.71 ERA) wills start for the Yankees.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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