Astros hold off A's in 11 for crazy finish

Astros hold off A's in 11 for crazy finish

OAKLAND -- Left fielder Robbie Grossman notched a go-ahead, two-run single off of A's southpaw Eric O'Flaherty in a three-run 11th inning, helping the Astros claim a 5-4 series-opening victory at the Coliseum on Friday evening.

It was a wild ending to a game that didn't see its first run until the 10th inning, when Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run, two-out double off of A's reliever Dan Otero. The A's came right back in the bottom of the frame against a familiar face in right-hander Luke Gregerson, getting a game-tying, two-run double from Josh Reddick, who unsuccessfully tried racing home when the ball got away from the plate.

"Once I see the ball get by, I figure, why not try?" Reddick said. "The ball was soaking wet rolling in outfield grass. You've got to make a perfect throw to get me. I'm trying to win the ballgame. We haven't been scoring many runs the past two games. I don't see a problem with trying."

Gregerson nabs Reddick at home

After the Astros climbed back on top, with George Springer notching the insurance run on an RBI single in the 11th, the A's nearly rallied again. Marcus Semien provided a two-run homer against right-hander Pat Neshek with no outs, and Ike Davis followed with a pinch-hit single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there.

Semien's two-run homer

"For me, I'm relieved," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had that game won twice and we didn't finish the game until the end. We never count that team across the way out, good team. I'm personally relieved. I think our guys are tired, obviously, but there's a little boost of adrenaline after you win that game, as opposed to the heartache of losing it."

Astros starter Dallas Keuchel worked nine scoreless innings, with just two hits and two walks allowed. A's starter Scott Kazmir kept pace with seven zeros, holding the Astros to five hits in that span.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nineteen straight: Keuchel's masterful night was capped off with a run of 19 straight retired Athletics. Following Mark Canha's third-inning walk, Keuchel kept Oakland off the basepaths for the rest of his evening. The southpaw owns a 0.62 ERA this season and hasn't allowed a run in 15 consecutive innings.

"For the length of the game and quality of stuff, and retiring guys in a row, this was his best start," Hinch said. More >

Keuchel's nine shutout innings

Kaz control: Kazmir completed seven innings for the third time in four starts, limiting the Astros to five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks while not allowing a run to lower his season ERA to 0.99. In 27 1/3 innings, the southpaw has surrendered three runs and fanned 30. As a collective group, A's starting pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of the first 18 games and have a 2.60 ERA, lowest in the American League. More >

Kazmir's scoreless start

Marwin's magic: Gonzalez didn't enter the game until the eighth inning as a pinch-runner but played a big role in the game's outcome. He staked the Astros to a short-lived, two-run lead in the 10th when he roped a double into the left-field gap to score Springer and Jed Lowrie. Gonzalez would end up being caught in a rundown between second and third, marking the second time of the evening he was tagged out on the basepaths.

Gonzalez's go-ahead double

Bullpen blunders: The A's bullpen has allowed two runs or more in five of the last nine games, surrendering a total of 20 runs over 27 1/3 innings in that time. For O'Flaherty, it was his second loss this week. Before that, his last loss came Aug. 14, 2011.

"He's getting pretty good movement, he's just not harnessing it," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's not throwing it over the plate. He's a guy we really feel like has a great chance to get us ground balls. He's got a history of getting righties and lefties out. It's just right now, the last few times have been a little bit of a struggle for him." More >

Melvin on Kazmir and injuries

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his third-inning single off of Kazmir, Jose Altuve extended his hitting streak against Oakland to 27 straight games, dating back to Sept. 5, 2013.

Altuve extends streak vs. A's

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Scott Feldman will have revenge on his mind when he steps to the Coliseum mound Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT. The veteran right-hander was roughed up by the A's on April 13, when he gave up eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and a walk over five innings of work.

A's: Right-hander Kendall Graveman looks to bounce back from a short Monday outing against the Angels, when he needed 73 pitches to get through just three innings, marking the second time in three starts this season he hasn't been able to complete at least four. Graveman has already faced the Astros once this year, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings. First pitch at the Coliseum will be at 1:05 p.m. PT.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.