The Oakland Athletics were in Houston to take on the Astros at Minute Maid park.

The game should have been a pitcher’s duel, as Scott Kazmir faced off against his old teammate, Sonny Gray.

However, this game was anything but a pitcher’s duel. Kazmir allowed three earned runs, three walks, and just two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Gray allowed three runs in the first inning, and finished with a line of 5.1 IP, and five earned runs.

Jose Altuve had the first hit of the contest, a double to left center. George Springer would walk, and Altuve would advance to third on a wild pitch, Carlos Correa would hit a sacrifice fly, and the Astros would be first on the board.

A three run first inning had Gray rattled, but the A’s were able to rebound as Jake Smolinski hit a solo home run in the second to bring Oakland closer.

Stephen Vogt had spent the last 13 games away from catching due to a groin injury. While Vogt seems eager to get back behind the dish, a source close the team says the club “won’t let him,” at least for right now. Since the A’s aren’t fighting for a pennant, they’ll ease him back into the lineup as a pinch hitter.

The A’s scored six unanswered runs until a Luis Valbuena plated Colby Rasmus in what would help spark an Astros comeback.

Evan Gattis hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth to make the score 8-6. Max Stassi hit his first major league home run, and Matt Duffy recorded his first major league hit, on a double that just missed being a home run.

Before last night’s victory, the Astros had dropped seven out of their last eight, which opened the door for the Texas Rangers to tighen the division race. Just five days ago, the Rangers wrestled the division lead away from the ‘Stros. The Rangers lead the division by 2.5 games, and the Yankees lead the Wild Card by four games.

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Steve Benko

• 23 • Staff Writer • IBWAA Member

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