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Greinke, Astros snatch series finale; A’s settle for three of four

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Astros pitcher Zach Greinke put on a pitching clinic Sunday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum, helping Houston avoid a sweep.

Alex Bregman provided Greinke (W, 13-4, 2.84 ERA) and the Astros (79-46) all the offense needed to take one of four from the Athletics (71-53). Manager Bob Melvin talked about what makes Greinke different from other starters in this league:

“He does a little bit differently from a lot of the premier starters. He paints with his fastball, his changeup is almost the same speed as his fastball, it dives off the table and goes straight down. Curveball for chase, curveball for strike, sliders to the right-handers and really doesn’t give you a whole lot to hit.”

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

A first-inning throwing error by Brett Anderson (L, 10-9, 4.06 ERA) put Oakland behind the eightball early, giving José Altuve two free bases with one down. But Chad Pinder erased Houston’s early scoring opportunity, cutting down Altuve at home with a perfect throw from right field, allowing Anderson to escape the first without allowing a run.

Behind Pinder’s arm and an impressive solo blast from Marcus Semien, the A’s jumped on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Semien spoke on the solo run and what he saw from Greinke:

“Just a fastball. I tried to pull my hands inside – he can cut that fastball a little bit, I don’t want to give up on it. He’s got good stuff, just got to get on top of his fastball.

The top of the fifth is when Houston made its mark.

Alex Bregman knocked one out of the park, bringing in Altuve and Josh Reddick to give the Astro’s the lead 3-1 and leave Oakland looking for answers.

After allowing the first two to reach in the fifth, Anderson came one pitch short of stranding both. But an 0-2, two-out slider hung over the plate and became Anderson and the A’s undoing:

“Yeah, I got a strikeout with [Yordan] Alvarez and [Robinson] Chirinos and I got ahead 0-2 second pitch to [Alex] Bregman and just trying to make a better one and ended up making a worse one. It’s tough, especially to try to sweep this team … but I kind of put this one behind me and move on to the next one.”

The A’s continued to search offensively while Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, and Ryan Buchter keep Houston at four, following a sixth-inning RBI single from Yuli Gurriel.

Greinke continued to feast on Oakland batters, striking out Mark Canha and Corben Joseph in the bottom of the sixth.

A Canha single to lead off the ninth against closer Roberto Osuna (S, 27, 2.92 ERA) gave the Oakland offense a chance. But a double play cut any hopes of a rally off before they ever got started.

Up Next

Following a day off, the A’s will be back at the Oakland Coliseum Tuesday against the Yankees (83-42). Homer Bailey (10-8, 5.22 ERA) will get the ball for the home club.

Notes

Stephen Piscotty rolled his ankle in Saturday’s game and needed subsequently removed. Manager Bob Melvin said he had been cleared to play Sunday, but with Monday being an off-day the decision was made to give him the extra rest. … According to Melvin, Ramón Laureano will begin running soon, though a timetable has yet to be set for his return.

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