OAKLAND -- Overmatched and outplayed, the A's could not avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros on Thursday afternoon.The 7-3 loss at the Coliseum, which featured home runs from Khris Davis and Matt Olson, was their eighth straight to the defending World Series champions, bringing them under
OAKLAND -- Overmatched and outplayed, the A's could not avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros on Thursday afternoon.
The 7-3 loss at the Coliseum, which featured home runs from Khris Davis and Matt Olson, was their eighth straight to the defending World Series champions, bringing them under .500 at 34-35 -- a record largely defined by their poor play against American League West opponents.
The A's, now readying to welcome in the Angels for three games, are 10-24 when matched up within their division, compared to 24-11 against everyone else.
Leaning on the long ball is often their downfall. Davis homered in his third straight at-bat for his 20th of the season -- third most in the Majors -- in the second inning against the AL's ERA leader. Veteran right-hander Justin Verlander, pitching in Oakland for the first time since his Game 5 victory in the 2013 AL Division Series, offered up little else. Olson's two-run homer in the seventh, his 14th, was one of just five hits recorded in seven innings against Verlander.
"For me, the psychology of a starting pitcher goes a long way," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Granted, they have a great lineup, they do things across the board well. But their starting pitchers get your attention. When they score runs early in the game, you tend to press a little bit and think you have to do too much right away. "
Counterpart Frankie Montas could not contain the red-hot Astros, who tortured the A's all week. After Wednesday night's 13-5 thumping, the Astros were back at it in the opening frame, getting RBI knocks from Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick in a two-run showing.
"I tried to battle," Montas said through team interpreter Juan Dorado. "I tried to do a good job up there, but they've got a lot of good hitters. I felt like my stuff was the same, but I wasn't really executing my pitches like I was in the past."
Montas, who allowed just three runs over his first 21 2/3 innings this season, was on the hook for seven runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 frames. The Astros tagged him for 11 hits, including a two-run homer off the bat of Brian McCann in the fourth.
"You know what, that's a good team that's swinging the bat real well right now," Melvin said. "Looked like every ball he got in the middle of the plate, similar to every pitcher in this series with us, they hit."
Houston tacked on two more runs in the sixth with help from a rare two-error inning from defensive whiz Matt Chapman at third base. Chapman, who couldn't handle two routine popups under a bright sun and also made a throwing error, exited the game in the seventh inning with a right hand contusion and is scheduled for an MRI.
The A's have been outscored, 69-20, in their last eight meetings with the Astros, including 26-11 this week.
Chapman, who prefers to go without sunglasses, said he'll consider wearing them in the future following his defensive blunders. Thursday marked the second two-error game of his season and the third of his career.
"I'm going to figure something out," Chapman said. "Obviously, that can't keep happening. To be honest with you, I'm not very comfortable wearing sunglasses. I don't mind it with fly balls, but with ground balls, especially when you're playing in there close, it's something I'm not fully comfortable with. I've never had a problem in a day game before. Maybe the sun was extra worse today or caught in some bad spots, because I saw both those balls off the bat initially and then I lost them in the sun. I tried to hang in there.
"I just need to either figure out how to wear sunglasses or get some flips, but I'll make sure that I got it covered."
Five of Davis' last seven hits have been homers. He has 105 home runs since the start of 2016, most in the Majors. Giancarlo Stanton is next in line with 101.
Chris Bassitt (0-1, 1.29 ERA) has been summoned from Triple-A Nashville for a second start in place of the injured Trevor Cahill (right Achilles strain). The right-hander will take on the Angels in Friday's 6:35 p.m. PT series opener, while Los Angeles counters with lefty Tyler Skaggs (5-4, 3.08 ERA) at the Coliseum.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.