OAKLAND -- The Astros were in desperate need of a hero in the late innings Monday night, and Marwin Gonzalez answered the call.
Gonzalez hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the ninth inning off Ryan Madson to snap a tie and send the Astros to a 4-2, come-from-behind win over the A's at the Oakland Coliseum to keep pace in the American League Wild Card race.
"For the team, it's great," Gonzalez said. "Everybody is doing their part. We're fighting until the end. Nobody's quitting. The pitchers are making good pitches, and the defense is there, too. We have to fight until the end."
The Astros are three games behind the Blue Jays and Orioles for an AL Wild Card spot, but pulled even with the Mariners in the standings.
"I loved how our team hung in there until the end," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We couldn't solve [A's starter Jharel] Cotton at all early. The at-bats got a lot better as the game progressed, and some of the biggest at-bats were when the game was on the line. I liked how we gutted it out in the eighth and ninth in a park we struggle to win in."
The Astros couldn't manage much offense against Cotton, who held them to one run and two hits in six innings. Evan Gattis' career-high 28th homer of the year in the second inning put the Astros ahead, but Ryon Healy and Bruce Maxwell homered off Brad Peacock in the second to put Oakland ahead, 2-1.
"He pitched great," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cotton. "A low pitch count as we cut back on his innings. He located well and threw his change in any count."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Marwin comes up clutch: The versatile switch-hitter, who's been getting most of the starts at first base recently, delivered his biggest hit of the season. After Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa began the ninth with singles, the A's walked Gattis to loaded the bases for Gonzalez, who shot a single up the middle past a drawn-in infield for the winner. More >
"He was in a really bad situation," Gonzalez said of Madson. "I knew that he was going to try to get up in the count, and I was trying to do the same thing."
Power drive: A pair of rookies went deep for the A's in the bottom of the second, giving them the lead. Healy's solo shot was a no-doubter. Maxwell's homer, the first of his career, just made it over the left-field fence. It should be easy to find since it landed in an area where only the scoreboard operator can get to it. More >
"I'm sure I'll get it tomorrow," Maxwell said of getting the ball. "It felt good to get the first one."
Great White attacks: Astros rookie Tyler White came off the bench in the eighth inning and had one his biggest hits since the first week of the season when he shot a pinch-hit double into the left-field corner to score Teoscar Hernandez from first base to tie the game. It was White's third pinch-hit double of the season, tying a franchise record.
"I was just looking for fastballs really," White said. "Pinch-hitting, I was looking for a pitch to hit and something up in the zone and ended up having a longer at-bat than I normally would pinch-hitting. Got a fastball I was able to handle and luckily snuck it in there right inside the line."
A real game-saver: Madson took "saves" to a new height with a brilliant fielding play in the eighth. With runners on first and third and two outs, Yulieski Gurriel hit a slow chopper toward third that the 36-year-old Madson tracked down, grabbed with his right hand and threw, his momentum carrying him away, with enough on it to get the out at first.
"The ball off the bat, you don't think he has any play at all," Melvin said. "It was a great play."
"It didn't make me sad when they took him out of the game," -- Hinch on Cotton
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Altuve needs one more hit to reach 200 for the third consecutive year, which would make him the third second baseman to do that in three straight seasons along with Charlie Gehringer and Rogers Hornsby.
The Astros successfully challenged a call at first base in the third inning. Stephen Vogt was called safe on a grounder to Altuve, but replay showed Gonzalez was able to stretch and touch the base in time, and the call was overturned.
REPLAY REVIEW II
The Athletics challenged the slide rule at second base in breaking up a double play. The Astros' Jake Marisnick was cleared of any wrongdoing on the replay and the play stood, leaving runners at the corners with two outs.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove (3-4, 4.71 ERA) will get the start for the Astros in Tuesday's 9:05 p.m. CT game against the A's. Musgrove is coming off consecutive quality starts against the Cubs and Rangers, a pair of first-place teams. On the road, he's 1-3 with an 8.71 ERA in four starts.
Athletics: Left-hander Sean Manaea threw five scoreless innings in his last start and is 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA since returning from the disabled list on June 29. He's second among American League rookies with 109 strikeouts and 125 2/3 innings. He's 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA in three starts against the Astros this season. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. PT.