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Laureano finds redemption as A's win in extras

Center fielder drives in winning run in 11th; Olson hits three-run homer in ninth
@alysonfooter
July 24, 2019

HOUSTON -- Ramón Laureano established himself pretty early as the focal point of the A's 4-3 win over the Astros in 11 innings on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. It just took some time to determine if he was going to be remembered as the reason they won, or

HOUSTON -- Ramón Laureano established himself pretty early as the focal point of the A's 4-3 win over the Astros in 11 innings on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. It just took some time to determine if he was going to be remembered as the reason they won, or the reason they lost.

Fortunately for an A's team that had not won in Houston in 2019 in four previous tries, Laureano's heroics overshadowed any earlier shortcomings. He provided a key double off Collin McHugh in the 11th inning, driving in the winning run, which evened the series 1-1 heading into Wednesday's matinee finale.

Box score

"He's a fighter," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Laureano. "He's never going to get down on himself, he's never going to fail because he's scared of anything. For as good as he played last week and last night, tonight, his at-bats weren't as good as they have been until we really needed it. That was key."

The score was knotted at three in the 11th when Matt Olson -- who put the A's ahead for the first time in the ninth with a three-run homer off Roberto Osuna -- knocked a one-out single. Mark Canha walked, and Laureano lined a double down the left-field line, which scored Olson (and, briefly, Canha, until he was sent back to third after a crew chief review determined Laureano's ball had gotten lodged under the left-field wall).

"I was just trying to hit a ground ball to second base," Laureano said. "It didn't work that well. In the end, just try to slow the game down. Just feel my body floating and just react."

He relied on instincts earlier in the game, too, but the results were less satisfying, and for a while, it looked as if his split-second decision might have contributed to an A's loss. In the second inning, Yuli Gurriel poked a seemingly innocent low line drive to center, but he ended up with an inside-the-park home run when Laureano's decision to dive forward backfired.

As Laureano attempted the sliding grab, the ball cut to his right and bounced under his glove. The speedy outfielder retrieved the ball at the wall in the deepest part of center and got the ball back in quickly, but the relay throw was offline and Gurriel scored easily.

Laureano blamed himself for how he handled the play.

"Right now, I'm not very confident diving forward," he said. "I don't know what it is. I have no idea what it is. I have to find a way to work at it. I don't know how I'm going to do that, but find a way to make those plays. It's embarrassing right now."

Melvin had a less harsh take.

“The toughest play for a center fielder is a line drive right at you," he said. "He always wants to make the play -- just got caught in between. I don't blame him for trying to go get it, but it's a really tough read when it's right at you like that. You just want to make a nice play."

Laureano also made an error in the game, but it ended up being harmless. With Jose Altuve on first, Alex Bregman sent a fly ball to Laureano, but the center fielder slipped while throwing the ball back in, which allowed Altuve to scamper to second. Altuve made it as far as third on a stolen base, but did not score.

"It's an error -- it happened," Laureano said. "I just kept moving forward from that second after."

Laureano's game-winning hit was made possible by a comeback in the ninth inning that seemed impossible earlier, given how dominant Houston starter Wade Miley pitched for eight innings. The lefty, who retired the first 16 batters he faced, held the A’s to three hits -- until the ninth.

Miley was given the opportunity to close out the complete game, but he was lifted after he walked Marcus Semien and yielded a base hit to Matt Chapman.

Olson, who was hitless in 17 prior at-bats against the Astros, turned on a 1-2 fastball from Osuna and sent it 394 feet to right field, giving the A’s a 3-2 lead.

“I just wanted to be on time for a heater,” Olson said. “Osuna likes his heater and typically the Astros like [throwing] heaters to me. I just wanted to be on time. I was able to foul off that changeup, and I just wanted to get back to being on time for the heater. He just kind of made a mistake.”

Coming back against Osuna, one of the better closers in the league, may have seemed like an improbable outcome to outside observers, but inside the A’s clubhouse, few were surprised.

“It was huge,” Laureano said. “We knew when [Miley] came out we were going to tie it up and win it.”

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.