Hoes homer lifts Houston past A’s in extras

O.CO COLISEUM — Two extra-inning wins for Bay Area baseball teams in one night were just too much to ask for, as the A’s fell to the Astros 3-2 in 12 innings Tuesday night.

An hour after the Giants beat the Phillies in 14, Houston left fielder L.J. Hoes homered off of Fernando Abad (L, 2-4, 2.01 ERA) in the 12th put the Astros on top. This was the Astros’ first win at the Coliseum this year, getting swept here earlier this year.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

Abad has had recent struggles with the home run ball, having given up all four of his earned runs since June 15 off homers.

Chad Qualls silenced the A’s in the bottom of the inning for his 11th save of the season, with left-hander Darin Downs (W, 2-1, 5.18 ERA) picking up the win after a scoreless 11th.

The A’s got another fine performance out of Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.32 ERA) tonight and, though he didn’t factor in the decision, he added to his recent string of solid starts.

Kazmir finished his night allowing seven hits, one walk and two runs, only one of them earned in seven innings pitched, while striking out six.

The All-Star lefty has been solid of late, giving up just three earned runs in his last 26-1/3 innings, while striking out 30. He now sits at sixth in the majors in ERA.

Kazmir’s pitching was nothing new for A’s Manager Bob Melvin, as quality starts have become a regularity:

“He pitched the same fashion he has all year for us, we just didn’t score him enough runs.”

Although the southpaw is a tougher critic on himself, as Kazmir said this wasn’t his best effort:

“Well I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be, but there’s going to be starts like that, I felt like it wasn’t necessarily rust it was just a couple pitches where I had a little bit of trouble getting a feel for later in the game it got a little better, but just one of those days you have to go out and battle.”

The Astros got a fine performance from their own starter Brett Oberholtzer, who continued his dominant pitching against the A’s in Oakland as he’s only allowed four earned runs in the 18-2/3 innings he’s pitched here.

His ability to keep the A’s hitters guessing is what made him so tough, said Melvin:

“He pitched pretty well, threw a lot of change ups and breaking balls in off counts and a lot of chase heaters and heaters in plus counts where you might think he’d throw some breaking balls, he pitched backwards and he pitched effectively.”

Kazmir was hit hard early on, both figuratively and literally, getting banged around for five hits in the first three innings and being struck by a hard-hit Jose Altuve line drive that ricocheted off his body. The five quick hits were more than he’s given up in any of his last three starts.

The Astros got to him early when former Athletic Chris Carter singled in two runs in the third. That’s been the story of the first half of Kazmir’s season. He’s given up 21 of the 33 runs he’s allowed in the first three innings games.

Carter had a strong outing in his former ballpark as he finished the day 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.

The A’s managed to get one back in the bottom of the inning when Craig Gentry manufactured his own run, stealing both second and third base after a single to lead off the inning. He would score on a fielder’s choice by Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson finished the game with a double, a walk, a run and an RBI.

Scoring chances were scarce for the A’s, as the timely hits that have been a trademark for them this season illuded them.

Though the A’s had a tough time scratching runs together, Kazmir said that he thought they were hitting the balls well today:

“There were a lot of guys who hit it right on the screws it was just right at somebody so it’s just tough luck, but I felt like today we were actually swinging the bats well.”

Kazmir settled into a groove, retiring eight straight batters from the fourth to the seventh and not allowing a run after the second. While he was stifling Houston’s bats, the A’s showed a flash of life when they tied the game in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Jed Lowrie.

Jesse Chavez (7-6, 3.14 ERA) will take the ball for Oakland tomorrow against former A’s pitcher Brad Peacock (3-6, 4.39 ERA) before Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 3.27 ERA) pitches the series finale Thursday.

The A’s then embark on a six-game road trip that sees them travel to Arlington on Friday before visiting the Astros for another three-game series starting Monday.

Notes

Josh Reddick was activated from the 15-day DL today before the game but didn’t start. Reddick pinch-hit for Craig Gentry in the eighth and stayed in to play RF…Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 in the game and now sports a .339 batting average to lead the AL. … The A’s caught Jose Altuve stealing in the 10th inning. It was the first time Altuve has been caught stealing in his last 28 attempts. He leads the AL with 41 SB’s. … The A’s have fallen to 10-6 in extra inning games this season.