"That's a lot of runs in one day over two games," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Not our norm, to give that up."
The struggles were most evident in the second game Saturday, when the Astros' offense twice took a lead in the top half of an inning only to see that lead disappear in the bottom half. Houston fell behind for good in the seventh, when dynamite reliever Chris Devenski allowed a triple, a sac fly and then a solo homer to A's rookie Chad Pinder as a 4-3 lead turned into a 5-4 deficit.
"[I wanted to] go out there with my best stuff, [but] I obviously didn't have it," Devenski said. "You learn and you grow from it and move forward."
The A's added six runs in the eighth, capped by Pinder's second homer in two innings off Michael Feliz. All told, the bullpen gave up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings in the second game after allowing eight in three innings in the first game.
"Just not making pitches, and they've put some good at-bats together with some big at-bats to change the scoreboard," Hinch said. "They've been good for a really long time and they'll be good again, but not today."
This came after the bullpen allowed six runs Friday night, including closer Ken Giles giving up two in the ninth for his fourth blown save and third loss of the season. The struggles have been widespread, as nine different relievers have allowed at least one run during the three-game series.
"Definitely not our best," Devenski said. "But we'll put it behind us and move forward. That's all we can do right now."
Despite carrying a seven-game winning streak into Oakland, the three losses now have the Astros (86-56) tied with the Indians for the best record in the American League, as Cleveland won its 17th consecutive game earlier in the day. In the race to secure home-field advantage for the AL playoffs, the Astros don't have sole possession of the best record in the AL for the first time since May 10.
But despite what has happened so far in Oakland, Devenski remains confident in the team going forward.
"I feel we have a great team," Devenski said. "Whatever happened today, we'll put it behind us. Tomorrow's a new day and we'll start fresh tomorrow."