OAKLAND -- The red mark on the top of closer Luke Gregerson's left wrist was proof of just how close the Astros were to pulling out what would have been a much-needed victory Sunday afternoon.
Gregerson nearly caught a low liner back to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, but it glanced off his wrist for a game-tying single. Danny Valencia followed with a walk-off single to give the A's a 5-4 win at the Coliseum.
"It's not a good feeling, but it happens," Gregerson said.
Moments after Colby Rasmus' three-run homer in the ninth gave the Astros a 4-3 lead, Gregerson faced Mark Canha to start the ninth and got him to roll over an 0-2 pitch. He hit a grounder to shortstop Carlos Correa, who took too much time to get rid of the ball and allowed Canha to reach.
"I think more of the jailbreak out of the box probably ended up being a little surprising to [Correa]," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He took one extra step in his footwork. He's got the best arm in the league from that position, and Canha did a good job of running 90 feet. With the momentum he had with the swing out front on the slider, maybe the extra step cost us."
Things only got worse for Gregerson. Josh Phegley followed with a grounder toward the right side of the infield, which was open with second baseman Jose Altuve playing nearly behind the bag and first baseman Marwin Gonzalez hugging first. The single put runners at first and third with no outs.
"The biggest part of the inning is [not] getting that leadoff runner, getting that first out is always huge," Gregerson said. "Not getting it obviously, it's not a good feeling. And then the second batter, looking back and thinking you have a routine double play and there's only one person on that side of the field, it doesn't make for a good success rate. I don't know, just a bad inning."
Gregerson struck out Marcus Semien and then intentionally walked the speedy Billy Burns to load the bases with one out. After Coco Crisp hit a fly out to left field, the Astros were one out away from closing out the win. That's when Reddick hit the low liner to the mound that Gregerson couldn't quite field.
"It was a line drive, but it wasn't hit really hard, but enough to catch me off guard," Gregerson said. "Just hit off the wrist."
The Astros' bullpen, which has been one of the best in the game all season, gave up four runs and seven hits in two innings in relief of Mike Fiers, who was solid in his Astros debut. Will Harris gave up a pair of runs in the eighth that allowed Oakland to take a 3-1 lead.
"Our bullpen's been fine," Hinch said. "These get a lot of attention because you feel like games are blown at the end and those guys are on the mound because they're in our bullpen and they're in primary roles when we have the lead, but they've been fantastic all year. It's a tough blow and they're going to hold themselves accountable to it because they expect to finish games. But today wasn't the day."