Left on the wrong end of a bizarre 6-5 affair that spanned 11 innings at Minute Maid Park, the A's found pride in a remarkable rally but also pain in how it went haywire in the moments that followed.
"That was just a big mess, a big zoo behind the plate there. Hopefully I never have to see that again," A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "That's the first time that's happened in my eight years."
Or ever, likely.
With one out and runners on first and second in a 5-5 game, A's closer Blake Treinen induced a tapper off the bat of Alex Bregman that drifted from foul to fair territory, igniting a crazy chase: Lucroy snatched the ball only to drop it while attempting to tag Bregman, who danced around it and sped toward first. Lucroy, who bobbled the ball off of home-plate umpire David Rackley, recovered it and would have easily had Bregman at first if the throw had not ricocheted off his helmet and sailed to the outfield.
"In the moment, it's kind of fast," Lucroy said. "I definitely screwed that one up. The boys battled back. I let them down definitely back there behind the plate. That's on me.
"The problem is, I try to go tag him and the ball came out of my hand, and then after it got away, I tried to get behind him so I could get in foul territory and make a throw, and I hit him on the side of the helmet, and that's what did it. It's a good throw, but it hit him on the side of the helmet. It's a game of angles, and I lost that one. Tough one to lose, tough way to lose, but I tell you what, these guys fought and battled all night."
"That's a tough one, because first of all, you lose control of the ball, now it comes off the umpire, now you're trying to find the ball and make a throw on a fast runner," said A's manager Bob Melvin, who watched from the clubhouse following his fourth-inning ejection. "The only place he could've done it was inside like he did, and it ended up hitting Bregman in the helmet. There was a lot going on. It's easy to look at it slowing it down, but when you're doing it real-time it speeds up pretty quick."
After the A's erased a 4-0 deficit in the ninth inning to tie the Astros, Stephen Piscotty homered in his fourth straight game in the 11th for a 5-4 lead that proved temporary when Treinen saw his streak of consecutive saves snapped at 20.
Former Athletic Josh Reddick worked the right-hander for a leadoff walk, and Kyle Tucker snuck a single through the right side. Tony Kemp then sent a ground ball to Marcus Semien, who threw home for a play at the plate, but Lucroy couldn't hang on to the ball, allowing the Astros to tie the game.
It was just the A's fifth loss in their last 22 games. They've displayed an incredible knack for the comeback on this torrid stretch, continuing the trend on Tuesday despite falling short.
"Crazy way the game ended, but I tell you what, we battled all night," Melvin sad. "To come back in the ninth inning like that, score four runs, then take the lead, we played well enough to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED After being silenced by Justin Verlander for six innings, the A's came to life at the last minute, erasing a 4-0 deficit against Houston's bullpen in the ninth. They recorded three straight singles against Ken Giles -- including an RBI knock from Khris Davis -- to send him out of the game and kept at it against Hector Rondon. Matt Olson notched a run-scoring base hit, and Semien delivered a two-out two-run double for his third extra-base hit of the night.
MANAEA HIT AROUND A's starter Sean Manaea was lifted after one batter in the fifth in his shortest outing since May 25. The Astros struck early against the lefty, getting a solo homer from Bregman in the opening frame. Bregman was at it again in the seventh against Emilio Pagan with another solo shot. In between, Manaea surrendered a pair of RBI knocks to George Springer, offering up seven hits over four-plus innings after completing at least five frames in each of his previous seven starts.
HE SAID IT "It's a walk, it's a ground ball that finds a hole, he makes a good pitch and gets a ground ball, we can't get him at home, and then it's a topper in front of the mound. It's not like they whacked him around. He has been so good. It was going to end at some point, but unfortunately, it ended when he was pitching well and did what he wanted to do in situations with guys on base." -- Melvin, on Treinen's streak ending
UP NEXT Right-hander Chris Bassitt (1-3, 3.00 ERA) will be on the mound for the third of this four-game set Wednesday, while the Astros counter with righty Lance McCullers Jr., who is 10-3 with a 3.41 ERA. First pitch at Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.