OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) As happy as AJ Hinch has been with the top of his lineup, the Astros‘ manager has been equally pleased with the production from the bottom half of the order, too.
Then again, the way Houston’s offense has been going lately it doesn’t seem to matter who is batting or where.
George Springer kept up his hitting surge with two hits and two RBIs, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Houston scored its final three runs with a big boost from the final four hitters. A walk by Brian McCann and a double by No. 9 hitter Jake Marisnick preceded Springer’s two-run double in the fifth while No. 6 hitter Marwin Gonzalez singled in a run in the sixth.
”The first two games here, we’ve gotten production out of the bottom of the order and that sets up nicely for the top of the order,” Hinch said. ”When the bottom of the order contributes, it’s a complete lineup.”
One night after setting a season-high for scoring and hits, the Astros were at it again with another big night at the plate to beat A’s left-hander Sean Manaea in his first start back at the Coliseum since pitching the majors’ first no-hitter this season on April 21.
Every Houston starter had at least one hit for the second consecutive game. Springer, who became the first Astros player to have six hits in a nine-inning game the previous night, led the way again with a single and two-run double to raising his average to .297.
”An offense can only be as good as every guy,” Springer said. ”Whoever is hitting sixth through ninth, for them to keep having quality at-bats and flipping it over to the top, it’s huge. It allows me and (Jose) Altuve and (Carlos) Correa to kind of hit how we want to hit.”
Houston’s win spoiled Stephen Piscotty’s return to the Oakland lineup two days after the death of his mother late Sunday night, less than a year after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gretchen Piscotty was honored with a moment of silence before the game.
Piscotty caught the first out of the game on Springer’s fly to right and received an extended ovation from the crowd before hitting a single in his first at-bat. Piscotty’s father was in attendance and later congratulated his son while being interviewed on the video board.
”I know it made him feel good and to get a hit the first time up, it’s what you’re hoping for,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Houston starter Lance McCullers said he stepped off the mound in order for Piscotty to appreciate the adulation.
”It’s tough, man,” McCullers said. ”I feel for him and I feel for his family. From everything I’ve heard he’s an awesome guy. I just wanted him to have some time to be able to come up and have the fans recognize him. I wanted that moment to be his.”
McCullers (5-1) won his fourth consecutive start, allowing two runs and four hits over five innings. Yuli Gurriel doubled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Three Houston relievers combined to retire 12 batters and complete the six-hitter, with Ken Giles pitching the ninth for his fourth save.
The Astros are 9-2 in their last 11 road games and moved past the Angels into first place in the AL West.
”We just got a couple pitches in the zone that we stayed disciplined on,” Hinch said. ”Our at-bats were really good tonight.
Marcus Semien singled and scored twice for Oakland.
Manaea (4-4) extended his hitless streak at the Coliseum to 13 innings before Bregman’s one-out home run in the second.
After Springer’s go-ahead double in the fifth, Marwin Gonzalez made it 4-2 with an RBI single in the sixth.
Manaea allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander has given up eight runs in his last two starts after yielding five in the first six.
HE SAID IT
”If anyone knows where my curveball’s at, I would like it overnighted to Minute Maid (Park). That would be great.” – McCullers, who has been inconsistent with his preferred pitch most of the season.
RHP Gerrit Cole (3-1) pitches the series finale for the Astros and is coming off a dominant one-hit shutout of Arizona when he struck out a career-high 16. RHP Daniel Mengden (2-3, 4.30) goes for the A’s and is seeking his first win in five career starts against Houston.