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Pinder's HR caps early outburst as A's top Astros

Outfielder's 3-run shot off McCullers in fourth stakes Oakland to 6-run lead
MLB.com @JaneMLB

HOUSTON -- Back at the scene of Tuesday's loopy loss, the A's bounced back in a big way Wednesday, jumping out to a six-run lead en route to an 8-3 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Chad Pinder's three-run homer in the fourth highlighted the assault against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., whose wild ways fueled the booming A's, now an MLB-best 18-5 over their last 23 games.

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HOUSTON -- Back at the scene of Tuesday's loopy loss, the A's bounced back in a big way Wednesday, jumping out to a six-run lead en route to an 8-3 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Chad Pinder's three-run homer in the fourth highlighted the assault against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., whose wild ways fueled the booming A's, now an MLB-best 18-5 over their last 23 games.

View Full Game Coverage

If not for a bizarre defensive sequence the night before, they would be in position to sweep the defending World Series champions in four games. Still, they're within reach of their first series win of the season against Houston in Thursday's matinee finale.

"We're just playing, and the expectation to win is there every day," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't think they think too much about who we're playing. Obviously, if there's one team that gets your attention, it's the world champions, and they've had their way with us. But I'm proud of the fact we come in here and continue to play hard and expect to win every day."

Oakland rang up three runs before starter Chris Bassitt even took the mound Wednesday, a telling tale for a team that succumbed to such disheartening defeat not 24 hours prior. McCullers Jr. issued consecutive walks to Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie, setting up a two-run double off the bat of Khris Davis, and Matt Chapman chipped in with a sacrifice fly for an early 3-0 lead.

Video: OAK@HOU: Davis ropes a 2-run double to open scoring

The A's were back at it in the fourth with another assist from McCullers Jr., who hit Chapman and walked Mark Canha. Pinder made him pay with a rocket to left field, his ninth home run of the season.

"When I got to two strikes," Pinder said, "I was just like, 'You gotta stay on the heater here.' He's got a really good fastball, and you gotta get ready for it. I ended up getting a curveball. I was just reacting."

Video: OAK@HOU: Chapman lifts a sac fly to left field

"It shows you the grit these guys have," Melvin said. "[Tuesday's game] was a demoralizing loss, to be able to come back as far as we did last night and get beat in the fashion that we did. This is a tough venue to play in, and to be able to jump on their starting pitching right away showed me a lot from these guys to just move past what happened yesterday."

Bassitt, meanwhile, retired 9 of the first 10 batters he faced before yielding three consecutive hits to begin the fourth, including a two-run single to Yuli Gurriel. The righty returned for one more inning, surrendering a solo homer to Tyler White in the fifth before handing the ball over to the bullpen.

Video: OAK@HOU: Bassitt whiffs Federowicz swinging in 3rd

Davis added an RBI triple in the sixth, improving to 20-for-54 (.370) during a career-high 13-game hitting streak, and Josh Phegley got in on the action with a run-scoring single in the ninth.

Video: OAK@HOU: Davis belts an RBI triple to left-center

"Just playing competitive baseball, and it's fun coming to the ballpark looking to rack up another W," Davis said. "Confident, but we're also having fun, and I think that goes hand in hand."

PISCOTTY EXITS EARLY
A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty also fell victim to McCullers Jr.'s erratic command, taking a pitch off his left wrist in the fifth inning. Piscotty, replaced in right field by Pinder in the bottom half of the frame, suffered a contusion to his wrist, but X-rays showed no break. He's considered day to day.

Video: OAK@HOU: Piscotty exits after being hit on the wrist

With Pinder shifting to right, Canha moved from first base to left, forcing Matt Olson into the game. Olson, held out of the starting lineup because of minor back tightness, is the only A's player to appear in all 93 games.

SOUND SMART
Oakland's 82 home runs on the road are 14 more than any other team. St. Louis is next with 68.

HE SAID IT
"We always look for ways to get him in the lineup. He'll be in the lineup again tomorrow. You target him mostly against left-handed pitching, but all he does when he gets an opportunity against right-handed pitching is hit and do damage. There's some sock in his bat. We get off to a nice little start, but the three-run homer by him was really the blow that gave us a little distance." -- Melvin, on Pinder, who has homered in all three of his starts at Minute Maid Park this year

UP NEXT
The A's will activate right-hander Trevor Cahill (1-2, 2.77 ERA) ahead of Thursday's finale against the Astros, which begins at 11:10 a.m. PT and can be viewed on MLB Network. Cahill, who was recovering from a right Achilles strain, has faced the Astros once this year, a road loss on April 29 after yielding four runs (three earned) on four hits in six innings. Houston will counter with right-hander Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.83 ERA).

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Chad Pinder