A big night from Josh Donaldson and a five-run ninth-inning rally powered the Oakland Athletics to an 8-2 win over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the series.
With the win, the A’s improve to 77-53 and are now tied atop the American League West standings with the Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s opened up a 1-0 lead in the third when Donaldson lashed a double to left field to bring home Alberto Callaspo. The club tacked on two more an inning later. Brandon Moss dunked a single into left-center field before Josh Reddick stepped up and connected on his 10th home runs of the season. Moss finished the night 2-for-5 after entering the game with a .158 average in 18 contests in August.
Jeff Samardzija cruised through the game before running into trouble in the eighth inning in the form of Chris Carter. The former A’s player clubbed a two-run home run to right field to pull the Astros within a run. The right-hander has now served up nine home runs in 10 outings. Before joining the A’s in early July, Samardzija had allowed seven home runs in 17 starts.
The 29-year-old ended up working eight frames, allowing two runs and racking up 10 punchouts. That total marks the highest total of Samardzija’s tenure with Oakland.
The A’s did most of their damage in the top of the ninth. Tony Sipp issued four free passes in a row to begin the inning, as the left-hander walked in a run to make it 4-2. Oakland added on even more insurance, as Donaldson bounced a double into left to give the A’s a 6-3 lead. The double gave the third baseman three RBI on the night. Derek Norris then completed the beatdown by hitting a two-run, two-out single to make it 8-2.
Eric O’Flaherty, who could be replacing Sean Doolittle as Oakland’s closer, worked a scoreless ninth to lock up the win.
Up next, the A’s take on the Astros in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday at 5:10pm at Minute Maid Park. Oakland sends Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.75) while Dallas Keuchel (10-9, 3.12 ERA) takes the mound for Houston. Hammel hasn’t pitched since August 15 after his turn was skipped in the rotation. That night against the Atlanta Braves, the right-hander was torched for five runs in three innings.