Heading into the 9th inning of Wednesday’s contest, it appeared that the script would be the same as Tuesday night. Solid start from A’s pitching, and a late lead given up by the bullpen.
In their last at-bat, the Athletics faced Astros’ closer Chad Qualls, who promptly gave up a bloop single to Jonny Gomes to lead off the inning. Craig Gentry pinch-ran for Gomes and stole 2nd, and moved to 3rd on an Alberto Callaspo groundout to first. With one out, Eric Sogard laced an RBI single to left-center that scored Gentry and tied the game at 3 apiece.
After Coco Crisp hit into a fielder’s choice, fan favorite Sam Fuld came up with a runner on. With a 1-0 count, Fuld belted a shot to right, just out of the reach of Astros’ right fielder Jake Marisnick. The shot put the Athletics ahead 5-3. On the night, Sam Fuld went 3 for 5 with a run scored and 2 RBI, falling a triple short of the cycle.
O’Flaherty limited the damage to the one run and sealed the victory for Oakland, gaining the first save of his career. The blown save is Qualls’ 4th this season and 3rd against the Athletics.
The long-awaited return of Drew Pomeranz went quite well for the young lefty. Pomeranz tossed 5 1/3 innings of 1-run (0 earned) ball on Wednesday night, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 7.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Ryan Cook took over for Drew Pomeranz with one out and runners on first and second. After Cook struck out Dexter Fowler, Jose Altuve stole 3rd. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Cook threw one to the backstop, plating Altuve, and giving away the A’s 1-0 lead.
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Have no fear though, because Coco Crisp hit one into the Crawford Boxes in left-center to put the A’s up 2-1 in the top of the 7th.
In the bottom of the 7th, Cook started the inning by hitting Matt Dominguez, who had been mired in an 0-16 slump. After striking out Jake Marisnick, catcher Carlos Corporan singled to deep center, moving Dominguez to 3rd. Bob Melvin came out and took Ryan Cook back with him to the dugout. Fernando Abad, who had yet to allow an inherited runner to score this season (26 chances) did just that.
Robbie Grossman singled to right, scoring the tying run in Dominguez. The next batter, Jose Altuve, singled to center scoring Corporan, and giving the Astros the 3-2 lead that they would hold until the 9th.
The Athletics’ late-inning victory is their 12th when trailing after 7 innings, which ties an Oakland record set in 1969. Abad’s streak was the most runners inherited without allowing one to score since 1974. The record for a full season is 22, held by Randy Myers, who achieved this feat in 1998 with Toronto and San Diego.
That’s all of the good news. The bad news is that the Angels also won their game against the Miami Marlins, 6-1. Their lead over the A’s stands at a single game entering the big 4-game series this weekend. The Athletics will need to take 3 of 4 to gain ground, and also to keep their consecutive winning months streak alive. The streak is currently at 14, and Oakland record. The A’s record this month stands at 12-13.
The longest consecutive winning months streak in the AL over the past 36 years belongs to the Yankees at 20, who had a winning record in every month from September 1996 to April 2000.