HOUSTON (AP) — Matt Olson and Chad Pinder each homered and the Oakland Athletics defeated Houston 8-6 Friday night, narrowing the Astros’ lead for home field advantage in the AL playoffs.
Houston leads the White Sox by one home game in their best-of-five Division Series game next week. The AL West champion Astros also holds the tiebreaker after winning 5-2 this season against AL Central champion Chicago.
“We wanted to win today,” said Jake Meyers, who had two hits and two runs in for Houston. “We had the chance to win today. … That’s something we want to do. That’s the next goal in the coming games, hopefully get both W’s.”
Pinder hit a solo shot in the fourth and Olson had a two-run drive in the sixth to extend Oakland’s advantage to 4-1.
“We still have games to play,” said Olson. “When we get there, we will fight. That is what we do. It’s all we really know. To get those runs across, we’ve got some big hits. A pretty solid win against a good team.”
Pinder added an RBI-grounder when the A’s scored four runs in the eighth for an 8-2 lead.
Sean Manaea (11-10) gave up two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings when the A’s ended a three-game losing streak.
The southpaw became the fifth pitcher in Oakland history to have at least five consecutive winning seasons, along with Tim Hudson, Catfish Hunter, Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley.
“He had a great season; he really did,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. “Overall, he ended the year with an ERA of less than four and the innings he gave us, one of the better starters in the American League.”
Lou Trivino retired the side for his 22nd save. He gave up a leadoff double in the ninth by Yordan Alvarez and walked Carlos Correa, but then recovered to strikeout Jose Altuve and caused groundouts by Michael Brantley and Meyers to end it.
“He had to get into a tough situation and then he had a few guys and nobody in a tough situation and all their guys got off the bench too,” Melvin said. “It turned out to be a really nice outing. He ended up doing things a little differently too, throwing some changeups and curveballs and they weren’t all sinking. He had to dig deep to get through today.”
The Astros scored four runs in the eighth. Meyers hit an RBI single and Jason Castro followed with a three-run homer.
Aledmys Díaz gave the Astros a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first. Jose Siri, who led off with a triple and scored on the single, came out in the second with a right hand injury.
“I was surprised when he came in,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker. “A lot of times you hurt yourself, and you don’t feel it until later because your adrenaline starts rushing. He walked past me and said, ‘I hurt my hand.’ He went into the training room and the coach came out and told me to get him out of the ball game.”
Framber Valdez (11-6) gave up four runs on four hits, striking out seven in five innings.
Valdez said through a translator that he didn’t use his curveball as much as he should have, and that may be why he had to give up four runs.
“We tried to take him as far as possible, but not to overload him so he can be ready for the playoffs,” said Baker. “He was good. He had a really good curveball early on.”
Athletics: OF Ramón Laureano underwent successful surgery on Thursday for a core injury, Oakland announced on Friday. Laureano will return to Arizona to resume his rehab with the expectation of being ready for spring training, Oakland said. … INF Vimael Machín was placed on the 10-day injured list with a stomach condition not related to COVID-19. INF Pete Kozma was selected from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Machín’s spot on the roster.
Astros: Baker received a good report on RHP Zack Greinke’s rehabilitation assignment on Thursday, but said the team will see how he feels before deciding the next step. Greinke threw two scoreless innings for Triple-A Sugar Land on Thursday.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.14) opens Saturday against Oakland RHP Paul Blackburn (1-3, 4.71) in the second of the three-game series.
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