Fading A’s fizzle against Astros

O.CO COLISEUM — With the A’s having lost six of their last seven games, Friday night was the perfect time for a visit from the Houston Astros.

Instead, the A’s forgot the codes to launch their offense, leaving eight runners stuck on base in a 4-3 loss to a team Oakland is used to dominating, with an all-time record over Houston of 30-11 (.732).

The Astros jumped to a quick lead in the top of the third when Jon Singleton smashed a Jeff Samardzija (L, 4-5, 3.21 ERA, 7 IP, 6 hits, 4 ER, 9 K) 94 mph cutter to deep right center, well into the bleachers.

Alberto Callaspo lead off the home half of the third with an infield single. After a Coco Crisp strikeout, both Gentry and Donaldson drew walks.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

Derek Norris singled to right, plating Callaspo and Gentry. After a fielding error and a Jonny Gomes pop out, Adam Dunn added another run on a single through the shift on the right side of the infield  to give the A’s a 3-1 lead.

AL batting leader Jose Altuve (2-for-4, 2 runs) and A’s killer Chris Carter (2-for-4, 3 RBI, HR) propelled the Astros offense all night.

In the fourth inning, Altuve lead off with a single, then proceeded to swipe second base as Dexter Fowler struck out. The steal was Altuve’s 51st stolen base of the season, and the single extended his hit streak to a career-high twelve games.

A Carter single drove in Altuve to trim the Athletics lead to 3-2.

The A’s attempted to answer back themselves, but wasted a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity in the fourth. With Freiman, Callaspo and Crisp manning the bases, Gentry grounded to third, where Matt Dominguez threw home to get the force out.

Josh Donaldson grounded to third as well, but this time the Astros were able to get a 5-2-3 double play, snuffing Callaspo at home and Donaldson before he could reach first.

Bob Melvin commented on the A’s offensive struggles:

“You can’t continue to put pressure on our pitching like this. I mean, if we could score some runs there, we already have the lead. The tone of the game would be much different moving forward.”

The A’s held their 3-2 lead until the sixth. Just like before, Altuve singled. Fowler flew out to left, then Carter worked the count full after starting in an 0-2 hole. Carter whacked a Samardzija fastball to left-center, clearing the 388 mark.

Jeff Samardzija said of his decision to go with a fastball to Carter:

“I threw some fastballs by him earlier in the game, I thought it was a good choice. He just put good wood on it and hit it out.”

When asked why he didn’t walk Carter, Melvin responded:

“Man on first. Fast runner. Don’t want to put the go-ahead run on base.”

A 7-6 extra innings win by the visiting Los Angeles Angels over Minnesota sunk Oakland to six games out of the AL West lead. The A’s remain two games up on Seattle in the first Wild Card spot, with Detroit lurking one-half game behind the Mariners.

The A’s look to get back in the win column Saturday afternoon with Scott Kazmir (14-7, 3.39 ERA) on the mound against Scott Feldman (4-5, 4.37 ERA)w. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

Notes

Chris Carter has now homered in five of his last ten games. Against the A’s this season, Carter has seven home runs and 20 RBI. … Alberto Callaspo broke an 0-for-14 streak with his base hit in the third. … Attendance for Friday’s game was 21,130.