OAKLAND -- The Astros are surging just at the right time.
George Springer shot a single up the middle in the 10th inning to score Tony Kemp, who had doubled off Sean Doolittle, from third base to send the Astros to their fifth win in their last six games, 2-1, over the A's on Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
"I understood I just had to hit it through the infield somehow," Springer said. "Just like I was taught before, you find a way and help the team."
In a game in which Jose Altuve collected his 200th hit of the season, the Astros moved to within two games of the Orioles for the second spot in the American League Wild Card race with 11 games remaining, staying one-half game behind the Tigers and moving one game ahead of the Mariners. Relief pitcher Chris Devenski got the win in relief with 3 2/3 perfect innings, and Ken Giles stranded the bases loaded for his 13th save.
"We played well," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We fight until the end, we play our 27 outs, 30 outs, 33 outs -- whatever it was going to take, we were going to play 'til the end. Our guys understand where we're at on the calendar. We've played important games lately. They're playing very loose and certainly want to spoil some seasons, so it sets up to be a very intense playoff atmosphere game."
Astros starter Joe Musgrove and A's starter Sean Manaea were locked in a scoreless battle through five innings before Oakland pushed a run across in the sixth on a bases-loaded grounder off the bat of Stephen Vogt.
"Another really tough loss, back-to-back nights, especially frustrating because of the start Manaea gave us," Doolittle said. "That was one of his best outings of the season and to squander it is incredibly frustrating."
The Astros answered in the seventh when Kemp's grounder glanced off the glove of reliever John Axford and rolled into right field to score Marwin Gonzalez with a game-tying double. Kemp went 2-for-2 with two doubles off the bench.
"Before the game today, everyone seemed really loose and ready to go out there and play," Kemp said. "That's the main thing. No one's really panicking, everyone's having fun at this last stretch and we're just trying to finish as strong as we can."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Altuve notches No. 200: Altuve reached 200 hits for the third consecutive season with a one-out chopper over third baseman Ryon Healy in the eighth inning. He's the first player to have three consecutive 200-hit season since Ichiro Suzuki (2001-10) and first right-handed hitter since Michael Young (2003-07). More >
"He was chasing 200 hits for a little while now," Hinch said. "He's such a good hitter and when he goes two or three or five at-bats without getting a hit, he's really hard on himself and he tries to do everything that he can to get on base. He tries to be the hero. He really does a good job of conducting his at-bats. Two-hundred hits is a big deal. It's not easy to do. He's done it a number of seasons in a row now, which is why he was one of the elite hitters in the league."
Vogt's stroke: After Jake Smolinski broke up Musgrove's no-hit bid in the sixth, the A's loaded the bases and Vogt hit a slow bouncer to short, allowing Smolinski to score the first run of the game.
"Musgrove was on his game tonight," Manaea said. "It was a hard game. It's tough to lose like that."
Devenski unhittable: After Musgrove didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning, rookie reliever Devenski replaced him and sent down all 11 batters he faced, including four strikeouts, to get the win. Devenski, who entered the game with a a 1.41 ERA in relief this year, hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 outings. More >
"I never know when a game like this is going to come up, and for him to take 3 2/3 of a really good performance in a game that we needed it the most, is very, very valuable for us," Hinch said.
Oh boy, Danny:Danny Valencia, 0-for-4 on the night, thought he earned a walk. Instead he was called out on strikes and then earned an ejection from home plate Marty Foster after the bottom of the ninth.
The A's played the game under protest after the outcome of a replay review in the third inning. After Astros outfielder Teoscar Hernandez led off the third with a single, Jake Marisnick popped up a bunt that first baseman Yonder Alonso allowed to drop. Alonso tried to swipe tag a diving Marisnick at first, but he was called safe, and then Alonso tagged out Hernandez when he stepped off first base.
The A's challenged that Alonso had tagged out Marisnick, which replays confirmed. The call at first was overturned, but the umpires allowed Hernandez to remain at first base after determining he had stepped off the base because he had reacted to the incorrect call. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh (11-10, 4.66 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros in Wednesday's 2:35 p.m. CT series finale against the A's. The Astros have won six games in a row started by McHugh, who is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in his last five starts.
Athletics: Right-hander Daniel Mengden makes the start for the Athletics in Wednesday's season series finale at 12:35 p.m. PT against the Astros. The rookie would rather forget his first two starts against his hometown team that drafted him, as he's allowed nine runs in 9 2/3 innings.