Hoes' 12th-inning homer pushes Astros past A's
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Houston Astros left fielder L.J. Hoes called his mom, Gale, on the telephone before Tuesday night's game to wish her a happy birthday, she made a request.
"The last thing she said to me was hit a homer for me for my birthday present since you're not here," Hoes said.
Hoes gift-wrapped a tiebreaking solo home run with one out in the top of the 12th inning, and the Astros held on for a 3-2 victory against the Oakland A's at the O.co Coliseum.
Hoes ripped left-handed reliever Fernando Abad's first pitch to left field for his third home run of the season. He entered the game batting .176 and went hitless in his first four at-bats before homering off Abad (2-4). It was his first home run since May 13 against the Texas Rangers. Hoes, who was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Jun 26, made just his 32nd start of the season.
"It's a real good feeling, especially because it's my mom's birthday," Hoes aid. "To be able to do that for her, it's a special thing."
Astros right-hander Chad Qualls pitched a perfect 12th for his 11th save of the season.
The Astros beat the A's for the third straight time, a franchise first. Last year, the Astros were 34-66 after 100 games. This year they are 42-58. Since May 11, they are 31-32.
"Very improved," A's left-hander Scott Kazmir said of the Astros, his hometown team. "For them to pull it out shows the signs of a good team."
The first-place A's (61-38) remain two games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.
"We know we're just working to build for the future," Hoes said. "We want to get to where those guys are at right now. They've been to the playoffs the last two years and won the division. That down the line is something we want to work to. We want to build something that we can start winning division titles and going to the playoffs. We know that we have to compete with those guys and also beat those guys."
Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer allowed just two runs on seven hits over seven innings but didn't figure in the decision. He walked two and had no strikeouts in a start for the first time in his career. Oberholtzer went 0-1 with a 1.54 ERA in his first two career starts at the Coliseum and made it three straight gems at Oakland without a victory.
Kazmir allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits over seven innings but got a no-decision. Kazmir struck out six, walked one and left the game after throwing 106 pitches with the score tied 2-2. Kazmir, an American League All-Star, allowed one or fewer earned runs for the fourth straight start. He lowered his ERA to 2.32, third best in the AL.
"He pitched the way he has all year for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We just didn't score him enough runs."
Astros first baseman Chris Carter, who was traded by Oakland to Houston after the 2012 season, went 3-for-5 with two doubles. He drove in two runs with a third-inning single. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve went 3-for-6.
The Astros led 2-1 through five innings, but the A's pulled even with a run in the sixth. Third baseman Josh Donaldson doubled with one out off the left field fence, moved to third on catcher Derek Norris' sharp single and scored on shortstop Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly.
After Kazmir and Oberholtzer exited, the game turned into a battle of the bullpens.
Astros right-hander Josh Fields, who struck out 16 of the previous 24 batters he faced before Tuesday, struck out two more in two scoreless innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Houston left-hander Tony Sipp gave up a one-out single to second baseman Nick Punto, who took second on a wild pitch with two outs. Sipp retired right fielder Josh Reddick on a ground ball to first base.
Houston reliever Jose Veras retired the first two batters he faced in the 11th but gave up a single to pinch hitter John Jaso, then walked Lowrie. Left-hander Darin Downs (2-1) came on to retire first baseman Brandon Moss and earned the win.
A's right-hander Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect eighth and lefty Sean Doolittle a scoreless ninth. Right-hander Dan Otero pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings before Abad retired catcher Jason Castro on a ground ball for the final out of the 11th, stranding a runner.
Abad retired the first batter he faced in the 12th, but Hoes drilled his fastball above the yellow "home run" line on the left field wall above the out-of-town scoreboard. Hoes said he initially thought he hit a double when the ball left his bat. Astros manager Bo Porter wasn't sure if Hoes hit the ball high enough to get out.
"I was just saying, 'Get up, get up,' and I'm glad it got out of the ballpark," Porter said. "Boy, that's a big hit there. Did a good job of getting extension on the fastball."
NOTES: Oakland RF Josh Reddick (strained right knee) was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game and went 0-for-2 off the bench. Reddick, who was out since June 29, had a five-game rehab stint with Class A Stockton. INF/OF Andy Parrino was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday, opening a spot on the 25-man roster for Reddick. ... Astros CF George Springer (sore right knee, quadriceps) missed his second consecutive game. He remains day-to-day. ... Astros 1B Jose Guzman, a late scratch Sunday against the Chicago White Sox due to back discomfort, was in the lineup and went 0-for-4.