Altuve, Fister carry Astros past A's in finale

Altuve, Fister carry Astros past A's in finale

OAKLAND -- The Astros only needed Colby Rasmus' RBI sacrifice fly and two hits, including Jose Altuve's leadoff solo home run, to dodge a three-game series sweep and edge the A's, 2-1, on Sunday at the Coliseum.

Houston starter Doug Fister (2-3) allowed one run and scattered seven hits across 6 2/3 innings, picking up a victory in a game that could have gone either way, as the A's outhit the Astros, 8 to 2.

"Without a doubt, his best stuff, aggressiveness and strike throwing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "All in all, a solid outing on a day we needed it."

Added Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt: "It's the best that I've seen [Fister]."

The Astros drew eight walks, but their Nos. 2-8 batters in the lineup were hitless.

A's starter Rich Hill (3-3) had a great outing despite running his pitch count high through the first three innings and walking four. He tossed six innings and held Houston to two hits and two runs, capping his first daytime start of the year with two consecutive 1-2-3 innings.

Hill goes six strong at home

"[Hill] ends up giving up two [hits] in six [innings] and if we swing the bats better, a lot of times that's enough," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

Oakland's only run came in the seventh inning on Marcus Semien's RBI single.

With the loss, the A's have had 39 consecutive home series without a sweep, the longest such streak in Oakland history.

Houston closer Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect ninth inning for his fifth save in five chances this year and his 13th consecutive dating back to Aug. 12.

Gregerson shuts the door

Booming beginning: Altuve hit the third pitch of the game well over the left-field fence for his fourth leadoff homer of the season, halfway to Craig Biggio's club-record eight set in 2001. Altuve's homer snapped an 0-for-9 streak at the plate.

Big missed opportunity: The A's loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning, but Semien grounded out. Oakland was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"Rich and the bullpen did their job to keep us in the game," Semien said. "We had an at-bat with the bases loaded early. Say we get a hit there, and we win the game possibly with how well they pitched."

Fister strands the bases loaded

The one and only: Tony Sipp only needed to face one batter to make an impact on the game, retiring Jed Lowrie to end the seventh inning with two runners on base. He started the eighth with a lefty leading off, getting Josh Reddick to fly out before turning the ball over to Will Harris.

"Sipp came in to get two big outs over two innings, Will Harris did great and Gregerson had a calm ninth," Hinch said.

Singles party: The A's hit three consecutive singles in the seventh against Fister, the first of which was from Chris Coghlan with one out. He had been hitless in eight straight at-bats and was 1 for his last 21. He was plated by Semien for the A's only run.

Semien's RBI single to center

The Astros had runners on first and second with no outs in the third when George Springer hit a broken-bat grounder to shortstop Semien, who got the runner at second and threw to first, where Springer was called safe. The A's asked for a review, and the call was upheld.

Springer safe after review

"We see the light for us as a team. It gets us back on track heading home." -- Doug Fister on Astros getting a win before 10-game homestand

Astros: The Astros turn to Dallas Keuchel as they return to Houston and open a 10-game homestand against the Minnesota Twins at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday. Keuchel has given up 11 runs on 19 hits over his past two starts after allowing five runs on 14 hits through his first 20 2/3 innings.

Athletics: The A's continue their homestand at 7:05 p.m. PT on Monday with a three-game series opener against the Mariners. Oakland swept Seattle in their only other series this season. A's starter Kendall Graveman is 1-0 with a 0.99 ERA in three career appearances, including one start, against the Mariners.

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Willie Bans is a contributor to based in Oakland.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to and covered the Astros on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.