Altuve homers, Gattis gets first hit as Feldman, Astros lose to A’s

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hits a home run during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. 

Troy Taormina/Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Things started off rocky for the Astros after two errors on back-to-back plays by shortstop Jonthan Villar to begin the game and never got better for Houston and Scott Feldman in the 8-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Feldman, who took the loss and was unable to extend his quality start streak to nine games, lasted just five innings giving up 10 hits, eight runs (seven earned), on 96 pitches. 

"I don’t think Feldman had his good stuff today and they had a good plan against him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They had a good game plan against him and he made some mistakes. It seemed like everything they hit did damage. I think that was a difficult first inning."

It would have been easy for Feldman to place the blame on the sloppy defense that was played behind him early in the game, however, the veteran starter played his own critic after the game.

"One of those days that you hope maybe only comes along once a year or something like that," Feldman said. "Hopefully just put it behind and just come back next time ready to go."

Asher Wojciechowski, who was scheduled to start Tuesday’s game against Oakland, took over for Feldman in the sixth inning, delivering four strong innings of relief for a bullpen that was stretched thin in Sunday’s 14-inning win against the Rangers in Arlington. 

"Everybody threw yesterday, so from that vantage point Wojo [Wojciechowski] was the player of the game," Hinch said. 

Despite such high praise from his manager, after the game, Wojciechowski learned he would be sent down to the Astros’ AAA team in Fresno to make room for right-handed pitcher Brad Peacock, who will now start Tuesday’s game due to the shakeup resulting from the loss Monday night.

"It’s just part of the business," Wojciechowski said. "We need some arms up here, and it’s just part of it."

Pitching opposite of Feldman was Houston-native Scott Kazmir, pitching six strong innings, giving up just three hits, and one run while striking out eight Astros on 91 pitches. The Astros made some noise in the fourth inning after Jose Altuve’s home run to get on the scoreboard, followed by two-straight walks for Robbie Grossman and George Springer; however a ground into a double play by Chris Carter and a groundout by Evan Gattis stopped kept the deficit at 4-1. 

"This is a good Astros team, it really is," Kazmir said. "They’ve got some guys that can swing it. It just got to a point where I had my back against the wall, some runners in scoring position and I was able to make the pitch. I think that was the difference."

While there wasn’t many things that went right for the Astros Monday at Minute Maid Park, Altuve had a good night accounting for three of Houston’s four hits, including the towering home run to left field for his first of the young season.

"He really is our energy and the guy that we feed off of," Hinch said of Altuve. "Getting him hot would be a good thing for everybody."

The heart of the lineup consisting of Springer, Carter and Gattis still has yet to find it’s niche in 2015, gathering just five hits total in seven games played this season. However, Gattis did finally manage to bust his hitless streak that sunk to a 0-for-23 with a ninth inning single.

"It’s a step in the right direction – a small victory," Gattis said.

Gattis may have downplayed the significance of getting his first hit after a long hitless streak, but his manager Hinch believes this will be the turning point for a successful season. 

"It’s been a grind for (Gattis) to get a hit," Hinch said. "He hit the ball right on the nose early in the game. He cares. He cares a lot. He works hard. He’s a hitter. He’s a good hitter and he’s going to get hits."

The Astros and Athletics will meet for the second game of their three game series Tuesday at Minute Maid Park with Peacock (0-0) getting the start for Houston and Kendall Graven (0-1) schedule to take the mound for Oakland. 

Follow Shawn Ramsey on Twitter: @ShawnPRamsey

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