OAKLAND -- Chad Pinder homered in both the seventh and the eighth innings to lead the A's to an 11-4 win and a doubleheader sweep of the Astros on Saturday at the Coliseum.
After a third straight loss, the Astros (86-56) are now tied with the Indians for the best record in the American League, as Cleveland won its 17th consecutive game earlier in the day to pull even for the spot that guarantees home-field advantage for the AL playoffs. It's the first time the Astros haven't had sole possession of the best record in the AL since May 10. Houston gave up 22 runs in the two games Saturday, including 17 from their bullpen.
After the Astros took the lead in the top of the seventh on a George Springer sac fly, Franklin Barreto hit a one-out triple to right and scored on a Boog Powell sac fly to tie the game. Pinder came up and crushed a slider from Chris Devenski to left-center to give the A's the lead. Statcast™ projected the homer at 429 feet.
In the eighth, after Barreto had an RBI infield single and Powell added a two-run single, Pinder drilled a Michael Feliz fastball to right-center for a three-run homer, capping off Oakland's first sweep of a doubleheader since Aug. 22, 1998.
"That's really big," Pinder said. "That's big for our team's confidence going forward. They're an incredible baseball team as you guys have seen all year. We played some good baseball today. I think that's something to build off of."
After a scoreless five innings, the Astros scored three in the sixth off A's starter Daniel Mengden, highlighted by Jose Altuve's two-run homer. But that was the only damage done against the rookie right-hander in his first start in the Majors since June 3.
"It felt really awesome to come out here and give us six strong innings," Mengden said. "Just tried to attack as best I could -- get ahead and stay ahead."
The A's responded to Houston's three-run sixth by scoring three of their own in the bottom half, led by Matt Olson's booming two-run homer that ended Astros starter Brad Peacock's day. Peacock struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings.
"That's the best outing, feel-wise, that I've felt all year," Peacock said, adding that his fastball command was sharp. "I felt great tonight. Worked off the fastball and threw the slider like I've been doing."
Hinch added, "It was pretty good, especially early when he was missing some bats. The third time through the order is always tough for him, and when he gave up the homer to Olson, I got him out of there. But he's really effective and he's hard to hit and he was throwing the ball pretty well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Double double: After Olson's homer cut the A's deficit to one in the sixth, Matt Chapman greeted Astros reliever Joe Musgrove with a first-pitch double to right-center. Then catcher Bruce Maxwell roped a double to center, scoring Chapman and tying the game.
Hatcher holds it down: A's manager Bob Melvin called on reliever Chris Hatcher with runners on first and third and no outs in the seventh. While Hatcher allowed the runner from third to score on a sac fly, he threw two scoreless innings in relief and picked up his first win with the A's.
"You play with these guys for the last four, five years. You play with them on the Minor League side -- the dog days. You go through so much with them. To be able to do it all together in the big leagues, it's very special." -- Pinder, on young players stepping up against the Astros
"I think it was tough to see early for both teams. The shadows here are pretty bad, and it was difficult to pick up spin and really pick up velocity. Once it settled, we put some pretty good at-bats together [and] we swung the bat pretty well." -- Hinch, on early offensive struggles Saturday
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The A's successfully challenged that second baseman Joey Wendle had not tagged Astros baserunner Correa when he came off the base as he attempted to steal second. The overturn of the call on the field ended the second inning.
Then in the sixth, the Astros returned the favor, successfully challenging Pinder's apparent single. Altuve ranged toward second and one-hopped a throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Pinder was initially ruled safe, but a quick replay overturned the call.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (12-3, 2.88 ERA) will take the mound for Sunday's 3:05 p.m. CT series finale. Keuchel was solid his last time out, allowing two runs in 7 2/3 innings to beat the Mariners on Sept. 4. He's won three starts against the A's this year, allowing two runs in 21 2/3 innings.
A's:Kendall Graveman will look to improve his 3.17 ERA at the Coliseum in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. PT contest. In three starts since defeating the Astros on Aug. 18, Graveman has posted a 5.29 ERA.