OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – With September approaching, the Oakland Athletics are showing the baseball world what they believed from the start: This group and its young sluggers are ready to make a playoff push.
Matt Olson hit a leadoff home run in the 10th inning after a video review gave Oakland the tying run in the ninth, and the A’s beat the Houston Astros 4-3 on Friday night to pull within a game of the reigning World Series champs for the AL West lead.
“We’ve known that we’re a capable team, we’re a very good team all along,” Olson said. “We knew it going into the year that we were going to have a chance to make a run, so glad to finally get a little recognition for it and when we go out and win games like that, people are looking at us a little bit.”
Houston has been alone atop the AL West since June 14. Now the Astros are being pushed by a team coming off three straight last-place finishes.
Olson pulled a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Tony Sipp (2-1) for his 23rd homer. It was his second career walkoff RBI and first game-ending homer.
“Definitely one of the cooler things I’ve done in my career,” Olson said. “It’s the most juiced I’ve gotten on a field for sure.”
That came an inning after Oakland baserunner Ramon Laureano narrowly beat the tag at home from catcher Martin Maldonado for the tying run. Laureano took off from first on Nick Martini’s double to the wall in right field, testing the arms of outfielder Josh Reddick and relay man Carlos Correa – who made a beautiful one-hop throw right to Maldonado’s mitt. Laureano was initially called out, but immediately urged Oakland to challenge the call.
Umpires overturned the ruling after a review of more than three minutes.
Houston was stunned by the replay decision.
“From everything I saw he was out. I have no idea what they saw,” Reddick said. “There was no angle that showed otherwise. I’m tired of getting screwed by replays. That’s not the first time. I’m upset by a call that controls everything. I threw it gunning for home plate all the way. I wanted to get the ball to Carlos. He has the best arm in the infield and the most accurate arm.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said, “When the play is that important and you’re past the eighth inning, you’re going to challenge it regardless.”
Melvin also thought Laureano was interfered with near third base, where Alex Bregman ran through the baseline a moment before Laureano went sprinting by.
Blake Treinen (6-2) struck out the side in the 10th for the win.
Reddick singled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning against his former club after Bregman and Maldonado each hit solo home runs for the Astros.
Houston lost for the first time in seven games on Oakland’s home field this season, having swept three-game series from May 7-9 and June 12-14. The unbeaten run was second in franchise history to a 10-game winning streak at the Coliseum from July 20, 2016, to June 22, 2017.
Astros starter Charlie Morton retired the first nine batters in order before Martini’s leadoff walk in the fourth and Jed Lowrie’s single one out later. New Houston reliever Roberto Osuna faced runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth and got out of the jam before Hector Rondon blew his fifth save.
The Astros won 12-1 against the Rockies on Wednesday to end a five-game skid but were unable to make it two in a row.
Bregman homered in the fourth for his 23rd to give the Astros the lead then Maldonado connected in the fifth. The A’s tied it in the fifth on an RBI single by Matt Chapman, who extended the majors’ longest active hitting streak to 14 games and reached base for the 30th consecutive game. The hitting streak matches the A’s longest of the season, also done by Khris Davis.
Astros center fielder George Springer came off the 10-day disabled list from a sprained left thumb and added a single batting leadoff in his first game since Aug. 5.
The Astros are 14-4 in 18 games playing in California in 2018. Houston leads the season series with the A’s 9-5.
Astros: All-Star 2B and 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve (right knee soreness) worked on situational baserunning with spontaneous starts and stops in Oakland with the hope he can play rehab games with Triple-A Fresno this weekend at Tacoma before joining the Astros in nearby Seattle when they begin a series with the Mariners on Monday. … C Brian McCann, working back from July 3 arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, began his rehab assignment Thursday with Fresno and went 1 for 4 with a walk and a run playing designated hitter. He is set to catch five innings Saturday at Tacoma then take another day off before catching five to seven innings and eventually working up to nine.
Athletics: OF Matt Joyce, sidelined since July 5 with a strained lower back, took live batting practice for the second time in three days and was set to run the bases. Melvin hopes Joyce continues to progress but it could be September before he plays as the A’s will be cautious given previous setbacks.
Lefty Dallas Keuchel (9-9, 3.43 ERA) tries again for his 10th victory following consecutive no-decisions. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in two starts this season vs. the A’s, who will counter with right-hander Trevor Cahill (4-2, 3.39).
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