Astros blast past A's to pad AL West lead

Astros blast past A's to pad AL West lead

OAKLAND -- The Houston Astros stuck to what they do best, clubbing four home runs against the Athletics to salvage the series and outpace Oakland in an 11-5 victory Wednesday night at the Coliseum.

The team that is tied for the league lead in homers (192) matched a Major League record (2004 Tigers) for most players with double-digit home runs in a season (11) when Marwin Gonzalez went deep in the seventh inning. Collin McHugh didn't have his best stuff, allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the Astros' offense was there to back him up, with Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis and Carlos Gomez also launching homers.

Cut4: Astros celebrate homers by gobbling Gummy Bears

"We've had so many guys contributing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, the long ball is a big part of our offense. … It's a real threatening offense throughout the order [in] that if you make a mistake, we can hit it over the fence."

Astros' four-homer game

The outcome gave Houston a two-game lead over Texas atop the AL West as the Rangers lost in Seattle.

"Our offense did an incredible job today," McHugh said. "Hats off to them, hats off to the defense for doing a great job. The only stat that really matters is a win in the column for us."

Aaron Brooks struggled through four-plus innings, surrendering five runs on eight hits and a walk. Billy Butler and Josh Reddick homered for Oakland, which dropped to 20 games below .500.

"That's a good hitting team and not getting the ball down as often as I wanted took its toll," Brooks said. "Recently I have been a little nibblish."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Conger's revenge: On Tuesday, Astros catcher Hank Conger had an opportunity to drive in runs with the bases loaded and one out, but couldn't get the job done. He faced a similar situation Wednesday, with runners on second and third in the fourth, and slapped a two-run single through the left side of the infield to extend Houston's lead to 3-0.

"Last night, I think, the bases-loaded at-bat against Sonny Gray he carried with him for a little while," Hinch said of Conger. "Hank's come up with some big hits. He's not hitting for average the way he normally does, but the production has been there."

Conger's two-run single

Struggling Brooks: Brooks left too many pitches over the middle of the plate and did not record an out in the fifth. He's allowed 11 runs and 13 hits over his past 6 1/3 innings. A's manager Bob Melvin remains committed to keeping him in the rotation though.

Gomez goes deep: After Butler and Reddick homered in the fifth to cut Houston's lead to three, the center fielder switched the momentum back to the Astros' side, crushing a solo blast to left field that was projected to land 432 feet away from home plate, according Statcast™. The homer was Gomez's 11th of the season and third as a member of the Astros.

Gomez's deep solo homer

Butler's bomb: Butler hit his 11th home run of the season leading off the fifth inning and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He's 17-for-32 over that span. The A's went on to score four times in the frame, with Reddick adding his 16th.

Butler's solo home run

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Houston needs one home run from Jake Marisnick, who's hit nine this year, to break the MLB record for most players with 10-plus homers in a season.

VOGT RETURNS
A's catcher Stephen Vogt returned to the clubhouse for the first time since leaving Sunday's game after getting hit in the groin by a foul tip. He still feels the pain, but realizes how lucky he is that it wasn't worse.

"Fortunately the tests yesterday came back with no fracture or rupture, just a really bad contusion," Vogt said. "I'm just lucky and fortunate it wasn't a surgery-requiring or a removable injury, because those have happened."

A's manager Bob Melvin thinks he'll be available to play sometime during the upcoming road trip.

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Following Thursday's off-day, Houston turn to left-hander Dallas Keuchel in the series opener against the Angels Friday at 9:05 p.m. CT. Keuchel, who owns the American League's second-best ERA (2.29), is coming off an outing in which he fanned 12 Twins in an 8-5 win over Minnesota.

Athletics: After an off-day Thursday, right-hander Jesse Chavez (7-14, 4.17) opens the road series against the Rangers at 5:05 p.m. PT Friday.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. Oliver Macklin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.