A's bullpen steps up in tough spot vs. Astros

A's bullpen steps up in tough spot vs. Astros

HOUSTON -- One-run games have not been kind to the A's, making Monday's series-opening 2-1 win in Houston all the more sweet.

A typically wobbly bullpen was to thank, after three A's relievers combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings, not once allowing the Astros a hit.

"Obviously it's very encouraging," said outfielder Sam Fuld, who helped the cause with a remarkable catch against the wall on Tal's Hill in the eighth, robbing George Springer of extra bases. "Just emotionally uplifting. I think everyone is excited about the way this game unfolded."

Fuld's incredible catch on hill

"We need a few of them," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It's not going to exorcise all the demons, but it certainly gives us a night where we can sleep better."

The bullpen's continual struggles have been tiring -- and seemingly unstoppable, its ERA sitting at an American League-worst 4.78 entering the day. So Drew Pomeranz's early departure with just one out and two on in the fifth inning because of left shoulder soreness was, at the time, alarming for several reasons.

But Edward Mujica came in and escaped the jam with ease, returning for the sixth and keeping the A's one-run lead intact.

The club was 1-13 in one-run games prior to Monday's win.

"[Mujica] coming in with some traffic out there in the middle innings and giving us one-plus, it started with that," said Melvin.

Then Evan Scribner racked up two perfect innings, and Tyler Clippard breezed through a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save of the season.

"We'd been needing a pickup like that for a while now, especially when the starter goes out in the fifth and we have to pitch the rest of the game, and we've been struggling a little bit to get through with no runs," said Scribner. "Good performance there."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.