OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Mike Fiers gave his new team a quality start, though he wasn’t around for the wild finish.
Fiers made his first start for Houston, following one long relief appearance, and made one mistake in the Astros’ 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Danny Valencia, who drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, hit a home run off Fiers with two outs in the fourth, the only run he gave up in 6 2-3 solid innings.
“Obviously he’s swinging a hot bat right now,” Fiers said. “A solo home run? I can live with that. We were right there. When I came out, I felt like I did my job.”
Fiers gave up five hits, walked one and struck out four in giving the Astros a chance to win. It just hasn’t been a good stretch for the Astros who have lost six of seven.
“Every loss is bad, especially with all these close games,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve had a rough week. We’re finding it difficult to finish games on both ends.”
Colby Rasmus hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Astros a 4-3 lead and set off a celebration in the dugout.
“It didn’t turn out to be a big hit. That’s part of the game. They played us tough,” Rasmus said. “We’re not doing anything different. Things just aren’t going our way. I feel we’ll turn things around. We’re still in a good spot.”
Hinch said Mark Canha’s infield single leading off the ninth was the pivotal play. Canha hit a routine grounder to shortstop Carlos Correa, who hesitated ever so slightly. It was enough for Canha to beat it out.
“The jail break out of the box ended up being a little surprising to him. He took an extra step in his footwork,” Hinch said. “He’s got the strongest arm in the league. Canha did a good job of running 90 feet. The extra step cost us.”
Luke Gregerson (5-2) took the loss with his fifth blown save in 27 chances.
“The biggest thing of that inning was not getting that leadoff runner,” Gregerson said. “That first out is always huge. I don’t know, a bad inning.”
Gregerson still had a chance to nail down the win but could not come up with Josh Reddick’s line drive that hit off his wrist and allowed the tying run to score.
“It wasn’t hit very hard but just enough to catch me off-guard and it hit off the wrist,” Gregerson said. “It’s not a good feeling but it happens.”
Edward Mujica of the Athletics did not record an out in the ninth inning, giving up singles to Carlos Gomez and Jed Lowrie ahead of Rasmus’ blast into the bleachers in right field. Fernando Abad (1-2) relieved and got the three outs for the win.
Jose Altuve, who has a 20-game hitting streak in Oakland, scored from first on Correa’s double in the sixth to tie the score.
Astros: DH Chris Carter played in consecutive games because Hinch liked the way he hit the ball Saturday. … LHP Oliver Perez was recalled following Saturday’s game. RHP Asher Wojciechowski was sent to Triple-A Fresno.
Athletics: OF Coco Crisp returned to the starting lineup a day after leaving the game early due to a reaction to medication. … LHP Sean Doolittle threw a bullpen session and will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday.
Astros: LHP Scott Kazmir (6-6, 2.08), whom the A’s traded to Houston last month, makes the start Tuesday in the series opener against LHP Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. The Astros are 10-2 in interleague play, the best record in the majors.
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