OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Against a pitcher the caliber of Cristian Javier, Oakland manager Mark Kotsay appreciated his club’s patient approach to work counts and finally create some scoring chances.
Jace Peterson hit a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth, Zack Gelof hit his first major league home run in the seventh and the Athletics snapped a nine-game losing streak to Houston by beating the Astros 4-1 on Saturday night.
Seth Brown connected for his 10th homer in the eighth, his third straight year reaching double digits. With one out in the ninth, Tony Kemp made a catch on the wall in left with two runners on to rob pinch-hitter Yainer Diaz of at least an extra-base hit and help preserve the save by Trevor May.
“The ball goes up you make a play, and whatever you can do to help the team win,” Kemp said. “I don’t think it would have cleared the fence but it definitely would have hit off the wall.”
Houston starter Cristian Javier didn’t allow a hit until Gelof’s one-out single in the sixth then couldn’t recover and finished with a season-high six walks to go with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
The Houston right-hander retired JJ Bleday on a fly to right following the hit by Gelof then Brown’s walk chased Javier. Cody Thomas walked against reliever Phil Maton before Peterson came through.
“The patience is a good sign,” Kotsay said.
Alex Bregman homered for a third straight game for Houston with a solo shot in the sixth, breaking up a scoreless tie with a drive to deep left-center against Paul Blackburn.
The A’s starter has yet to record a decision in seven career games and six starts against Houston.
He allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks over 5 1/3 innings before Austin Pruitt (2-6) recorded the final two outs in the sixth for the win.
Oakland had several deep flies to the outfield in the early innings facing Javier (7-2), who lost for the first time in 13 starts since falling to the Phillies on April 29.
Javier is winless in seven starts since June 3 and hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning in his last seven outings.
After Gelof’s homer, his teammates had a fun time giving him the silent treatment before celebrating.
“I was in shock, I really didn’t know what was going on,” Gelof said.
Kyle Tucker doubled in the first for a 19-game road hitting streak for the Astros. Houston had won all eight previous matchups in 2023.
Oakland drew 14,507 on fireworks night.
Astros: 2B José Altuve (oblique) went through a lighter workout and was still day-to-day, according to manager Dusty Baker. … OF Michael Brantley took live batting practice on the field for the first time as he works back from shoulder surgery. “That’s a real big step,” Baker said. … Mauricio Dubón had a day off.
Athletics: LHP Richard Lovelady has been shut down for the remainder of the season and may need a follow-up procedure after a previous Tommy John surgery because of two related issues in his pitching arm: a strain in his pronator muscle and mild sprain of the graft tendon. He was examined by specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache. … 1B Ryan Noda, recovering from a fractured jaw, stood in the batter’s box as RHPs James Kaprielian (shoulder) and Zach Jackson (flexor tendon strain) threw mound sessions. RHP Mason Miller (forearm tightness) threw all fastballs on flat ground.
Oakland placed RHP Angel Felipe on the paternity list and selected RHP Chad Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas.
RHP Hunter Brown (6-7, 4.26 ERA) pitches the series finale for Houston on Sunday opposite A’s RHP Luis Medina (3-7, 5.79).
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