OAKLAND -- Designated hitter Evan Gattis drove in four runs, including two in the ninth against closer Tyler Clippard, to guide the Astros to a series-sweeping 7-6 victory over the A's at the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
Clippard offered up a leadoff single to Jake Marisnick, and Jose Altuve reached on a fielder's choice groundball to A's third baseman Brett Lawrie, who instinctively threw to second, even though Marisnick was already there. Following the Astros' double steal, Clippard struck out George Springer for the first out and intentionally walked Jed Lowrie, setting up Gattis' liner on a neck-high fastball to center field that went over the head of Sam Fuld, who slightly stumbled as he chased after the drive.
"I'm glad to finally contribute to a win, to come through with the go-ahead runs," said Gattis, who entered the game hitting .136 with one RBI. "I'm glad to have hit it, first of all."
"I still want to know how Evan Gattis hit that pitch," said A's catcher Stephen Vogt. "He needs to teach me how to do that.
"I would not change one thing about it. You can elevate there, and if he's going to chase, the worse thing that's going to happen is a medium fly ball, not tommy-hawks a double off the center-field wall. That's unbelievable to do that. I give him all the credit for doing that."
They were the first runs allowed by the A's since the fourth inning, when Marisnick hit a two-run home run off starter Drew Pomeranz, who gave up five runs (three earned) in five innings. Astros starter Asher Wojciechowski allowed five runs and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in four frames.
The 8-12 A's have dropped four straight, falling four games under .500 for the first time since July 1, 2012, while the first-place Astros improved to 11-7. Oakland's bullpen is on the hook for six of the club's 12 losses.
"We did a lot of good things right today, but we're doing just enough to lose games right now, depending on which facet of the game," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We had some big hits, we had some good plays, we had some good bullpen contributions. We were literally one pitch away today. That's what it came down to. We were just a little short. It's been that way for a bit here now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Worth the wait: Gattis, who started the season 0-for-20, sparked an Astros rally in the third with a two-run single and then added a two-run double in the ninth, his first RBIs in nine games. Gattis, batting cleanup, recorded his first multi-RBI game of the year. More >
Mistakes mounting: The A's made another costly error Sunday, their 10th miscue in their last seven games and 20th overall on the season. The typically sure-handed Ike Davis couldn't secure a groundball off the bat of Marisnick in the third. Marisnick would steal second and score on Gattis' two-run single. More >
Hold it right there: Left-hander Tony Sipp gave the Astros a lift with his 1 2/3 innings of relief. He entered the game after the A's scored against Samuel Deduno in the seventh and stopped any further bleeding to earn his second win of the season. Deduno, who had not pitched for nine days, went 2 1/3 innings in relief of Wojciechowski.
"Samuel Deduno was the unsung hero," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I know he gave up the run that put us behind, but he kept us close and gave us time to score some runs. We needed Wojciechowski to give us a little more."
Offensive noise: The A's, who entered the day having averaged just 3.5 runs over their last 11 games, plated five by the end of the fourth inning Sunday. Josh Reddick stayed hot with an RBI triple in the second, and he also scored on Lawrie's sacrifice fly. Lawrie added a two-run single in a three-run fourth that was capped by Craig Gentry's game-tying single. Marcus Semien hit an RBI single in the seventh that put the A's ahead until the ninth.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jose Altuve's 29-game hitting streak against the A's is the longest hitting streak by any Astros player against any team. Only Hall of Famer Luke Appling, at 31 games, has a longer hitting streak against the A's. Altuve was a big reason why the Astros swept the A's for the first time in franchise history.
A's manager Bob Melvin received his first ejection of the season in the top of the fourth inning by home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott for arguing balls and strikes. More >
The A's unsuccessfully challenged a safe call at third base in the ninth inning, when the Astros pulled off a double steal with none out as Jake Marisnick snuck his hand into third base, just in time to beat Lawrie's tag. The call was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh, who has won his last 10 decisions, makes his first career start against the Padres in San Diego on Monday night. Manager A.J. Hinch returns to San Diego, where he worked in the front office, for the first time since joining the Astros.
Athletics: The A's will enjoy an off-day Monday before returning to the Coliseum on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series with the Angels. Right-hander Sonny Gray, owner of a 1.91 ERA in his first four starts, takes the mound for a 7:05 p.m. PT matchup.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.