Mike Fiers loses as first-place Astros fall to A's 10-9
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) After falling behind by six runs, the Houston Astros showed something to manager A.J. Hinch, even if they fell a little short.
AL West-leading Houston nearly fought back against the Oakland Athletics in a 10-9 loss Monday, but it was unable to overcome a big sixth inning in which pinch-hitter Coco Crisp hit a go-ahead two-run double after Oakland chased Mike Fiers.
''There's a lot of reasons we're a good team, and one of them is because we play `til the end,'' Hinch said.
Fiers (2-1) allowed consecutive walks to start the inning before giving way to Josh Fields, who gave up Billy Butler's single to load the bases for Crisp.
Fiers said he felt fine pitching on eight days rest in his second start since throwing 134 pitches in a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21. He shouldered much of the blame for this result.
''Falling behind in counts, giving up free bases isn't how I'm supposed to pitch. ... I just need to be better mentally right there,'' he said. ''Just bad command that sixth inning. I put two guys on and put our team in a bad situation. If I eliminate that, we probably win that game.''
Pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar hit a home run halfway up the second deck in left leading off the seventh for the Astros, then Carlos Correa added a three-run drive, but the Astros missed a chance to move a season-high-tying 14 games over .500.
Houston began the day with a three-game lead on Texas in the AL West.
Josh Phegley hit a two-run drive in the seventh for the A's after Houston had pulled within 8-6 in the top half. Houston's Jake Marisnick added a two-run shot in the eighth as 15 of the game's 19 runs came from the bottom of the sixth and after.
''We're going to play hard `til the last out, that's what we do,'' Correa said.
Lefty Felix Doubront (3-1) worked six-plus innings to win consecutive starts. Sean Doolittle, the fourth reliever, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save in an injury-shortened year.
''It was awesome. The adrenaline was definitely flowing,'' the lefty said. ''It was right up there with my debut and when I came off the DL as far as the energy level and the atmosphere.''
Doubront is someone the A's consider a strong candidate for the 2016 rotation after he ''exceeded expectations,'' according to manager Bob Melvin, with his performance during the season's second half as a fill-in for an injury-plagued pitching staff.
Mark Canha homered and singled in a run, while Billy Burns added a two-run single in the sixth for the A's on a warm Labor Day in which it was 83 degrees at first pitch.
Joe Thatcher, Houston's third pitcher in the sixth, entered with the bases loaded to face Danny Valencia, who drew a leadoff walk to begin the big inning and got Valencia to ground into a force out before Lawrie struck out swinging.
Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly in the second, then Oakland tied it on Brett Lawrie's triple in the fourth.
CRISP'S PINCH HITS
Crisp was a pinch-hitter for the third time in four games and delivered a hit each time. He has a hit in his last four pinch-hit chances overall.
Astros: Lowrie, a former A's infielder, rested most of the day, then was booed as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, when he singled. In his last seven games, he is batting .478 (11 for 23) with three home runs, four doubles and seven RBIs. ''To get him to the finish line feeling good, and he's looked as good as anybody on our team, today was a day that we chose to get him off at least a start,'' Hinch said.
Athletics: C Stephen Vogt was resting at home after being hit by a foul tip in the groin Sunday. He said by text message, ''I'm feeling a little better today.'' He had swelling and was scheduled to have a second ultrasound after a first test showed nothing ruptured, Melvin said. ... OF Sam Fuld, who last played on Aug. 30 but hasn't batted since Aug. 25 as he deals with back spasms, isn't likely to make a start until this weekend's three-game set at Texas.
Astros: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-9) faces his former club in his ninth start for his hometown Astros, trying to bounce back from throwing just 4 1-3 innings his last time out against Seattle.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (12-7), 0-3 over his last four outings, faces close friend Kazmir. ''It's just going to be fun,'' Kazmir said. ''There's going to be a lot of trash talk through the whole deal.''