HOUSTON -- After providing the walk-off hit in Saturday's 12-inning affair, Carlos Correa delivered the go-ahead hit in Sunday's series finale, helping the streaking Astros spoil Sonny Gray's return from the disabled list and complete a three-game sweep of the A's with a 5-2 victory at Minute Maid Park.
With one out in the seventh inning, Correa chopped one past the third-base bag for a double off A's reliever Ryan Dull, bringing home George Springer to hand the Astros their first lead of the day. Carlos Gomez doubled and scored in a two-run eighth off lefty Marc Rzepczynski.
The A's posted two runs in the first against right-hander Lance McCullers on Yonder Alonso's two-RBI single, but the Astros used the long ball to get back in the game. Gomez homered off Gray in the fifth, and Evan Gattis launched his third home run in as many days to tie the game in the sixth, a solo shot off lefty Daniel Coulombe.
Gray totaled 69 pitches in five innings of one-run ball, while McCullers picked up the win after limiting the A's to two runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts in seven strong innings, stranding nine baserunners. The third-place Astros have won eight of their last nine games to inch closer to the .500 mark, at 28-30.
"It's not a surprise to me, it's more we're playing our brand of baseball and being rewarded for it with some wins," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We've been playing good baseball. There's nothing we can't do on the field. We have a lot of confidence now. We don't feel have that nervous energy when you fall behind."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Go go: Gomez hit his first home run of the season, leading off the bottom of the fifth inning. Gomez, who came into the game hitting .182 with five RBIs, connected off Gray into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Gomez's homer, on a 1-2 count, cut the A's lead to 2-1. Gomez added a hustle double in the eighth and came around to score.
"It was nice to see him contribute," Hinch said. "I love that he can get on the plane today and feel like he did something very positive for his team to help us win. A healthy and productive Carlos Gomez will go a long way." More >
Sonny returns: Gray was denied the win in his first start off the disabled list, despite leaving after five innings with a one-run lead, but his performance was encouraging nonetheless. Making his way back from a trapezius strain, Gray worked around a baserunner in each of his first four innings with ease, showcasing impressive movement with his pitches throughout -- the key ingredient that was absent in several starts that preceded his DL stint.
"Sonny looked great," said catcher Stephen Vogt, who had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. "His fastball had really good movement and life. Obviously the velocity was there, too. Just the conviction and the freeness he was throwing with, I thought looked like him. He had his movement down in the zone and was getting ground balls ... and swing-and-misses with his breaking balls. That's Sonny. He looked outstanding." More >
Settling in: After the two first-inning runs, McCullers shut down the A's over his final six innings to keep the Astros in the game. At one point, he struck out five consecutive batters. On his final batter, he got pinch-hitter Billy Butler to ground out to third with two runners on base.
"After the first inning, I was pretty heated and had to realize I have a lot of game left and had to try to keep us in it and give us a chance to come back," McCullers said. "The guys played unbelievable behind me and had really good at-bats."
Defense crumbles: The A's entered the day riding a season-high six-game errorless streak only to commit three, including two by relievers that led to runs. After Dull walked Springer to open the seventh, he threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, advancing Springer to second and allowing him to move to third on Altuve's ensuing fly ball to center field ahead of Correa's double. In the eighth, Rzepczynski's inability to field a comebacker from Colby Rasmus led to a run.
"It's spinning a little bit, he knows he's going to have to field it and get it over there in a hurry based on the speed it's hit to him, and he just bobbled it," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Correa's RBI was the 100th of his career in his 156th game. Correa reached the 100-RBI mark faster than any player in Astros history, beating Hunter Pence, who did so in 158 games.
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: The A's will enjoy an off-day in Milwaukee on Monday before arriving at Miller Park on Tuesday for the start of a two-game Interleague series with the Brewers. Left-hander Sean Manaea, who is 2-3 with a 6.16 ERA in seven starts in his rookie season, takes the mound in the 5:10 p.m. PT opener.
Astros:Mike Fiers will attempt to end the Rangers' dominance over the Astros this season as he makes his first career start at Globe Life Park on Monday (7:05 p.m. CT). Fiers is looking to snap a personal two-game losing streak that followed a three-game winning streak.