Oakland batters Astros to stay in first place

OAKLAND COLISEUM — In this final game of a 10-game homestand, the A’s routed the Astros in a decisive 7-2 win to maintain their 1-1/2 game lead in the American League West.

The Astros jumped out to an early lead when Jonathan Villar singled to lead off the game. Jose Altuve doubled him home, but that would be it for the Houston offense against Bartolo Colon.

En route to his 15th win of the year, Colon (W, 15-6, 2.85 ERA) pitched six innings on 94 pitches, striking out seven, walking one, allowing just five hits, and gave up only one run.

Colon is coming off a string of four starts in a row in which he failed to make it out of the fifth inning. When asked if there was anything different about Colon’s start today, A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said:

“Not really. I think maybe a little more command than the previous few, but for the most part he’s the same pitcher he’s been. And it’s nice to have him rolling for us.”

The third inning proved to be the undoing of Astros starter Lucas Harrell, as Oakland piled on seven runs to knock him out of the game after only three innings, seven hits, and 72 pitches.

Vogt singled off Harrell (L, 6-16, 6.01 ERA) to lead off the inning. Eric Sogard singled two batters later, and Brandon Moss brought home Vogt and Sogard with a double.

Yoenis Cespedes continued his hot September with an RBI single of his own before Alberto Callaspo walked and Daric Barton brought in Cespedes with a single to make it 4-1.

But the big blow came off the bat of Seth Smith, who crushed his eighth home run of the year — a three-run shot to cap off the rally — to make it 7-1 A’s.

Harrell was a last-minute replacement after Paul Clemens was scratched with a blister on his hand. Houston manager Bo Porter doesn’t think that it had anything to do with Harrell’s struggles today:

“When you pitch out of the bullpen, the one good thing about that is that you come to the ballpark every day believing that you’re gonna pitch. So I don’t think that the short notice had anything to do with his performance.”

Brett Anderson entered the game in the seventh looking for his third save of the year. Back-to-back-to-back singles by L.J. Hoes, Matt Pagnozzi, and Brandon Barnes made it 7-2 before Anderson settled in.

Anderson didn’t allow another hit and struck out three. His three innings of work qualified him for the save, his third of the season.

In their last 30 games, Oakland has 44 home runs, the most in the majors. They’ve scored 148 runs and have 110 base hits over that span. They’ve getting production from up and down the line-up, which Smith says is key:

“The last couple weeks, we’ve been playing well, and everybody’s been contributing — offense, defense, pitching — it’s how we win games around here. There’s not really one or two guys that carry us, it’s kind of a concerted effort. We all do our part, and usually the outcome is good.”

Good, indeed. The A’s finish this ten-game home stand 8-2, and now hit the road and begin a three-game set in Minnesota on Tuesday.

Notes

The A’s improved to 15-4 against Houston this season. … Colon recorded his 15th win of the season to become the first pitcher in AL history with 15 wins with four different teams (Indians, White Sox, Angels). … Barton is 5-for-12 (.416) with runners in scoring position. … Cespedes is now hitting .406 in September with two home runs and four RBIs. … Moss is batting .339 with 13 runs, eight home runs, and 19 RBIs over his last 20 games.