Jeremy Pena homered on the game's third pitch, Alex Bregman broke open a tight contest with a three-run double in the eighth, and the visiting Houston Astros closed in on a second consecutive sweep of the Oakland Athletics with a 6-3 triumph Saturday afternoon
The Houston win spoiled a brilliant second major league appearance by A's left-hander Hogan Harris. He was so ineffective in his debut last month, the team had demoted him immediately following the effort.
Following a 5-2 win in the series opener Friday, the Astros needed just two batters to go up 2-0 in the rematch as Jose Altuve singled on opener Austin Pruitt's second pitch and Pena belted the third over the fence in left-center field for his seventh homer of the season
Thanks in large part to five shutout innings by Harris in relief of Pruitt (1-2), Houston led just 2-1 entering the eighth before getting its high-powered offense rolling.
Consecutive doubles by Altuve and Pena prompted an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez that loaded the bases for Bregman, who sent all three scampering home with a liner to left field that made it 5-1.
A sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu capped a four-run uprising and completed the visitors' scoring.
Seeking to avoid a 10th straight defeat, the A's made things interesting in the last of the eighth when a double by Brent Rooker, a Seth Brown walk and an Aledmys Diaz hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs.
Shea Langeliers singled home two runs to get Oakland within 6-3 and bring the potential tying run to the plate, but Hector Neris got Tony Kemp to ground out to preserve the lead.
Astros closer Ryan Pressly threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save to hand the victory to Framber Valdez (5-4), who worked six four-hit innings. In lowering his ERA to 2.38, Valdez allowed one run and three walks while striking out five
Harris was even better after being promoted from Triple-A earlier in the day, giving up just one hit in his five innings. He finished the afternoon with a 10.13 ERA after beginning it at 162.00 following a six-run, one-out debut against the New York Mets six weeks ago.
Pruitt was lifted after one inning, charged with two runs on three hits. He struck out one.
Bregman finished with three hits for the Astros, who improved to 5-0 against the A's this season, outscoring the AL West's last-place team 21-8. Altuve and Pena each had two hits and scored twice
Langeliers had a pair of singles for the A's, who were out-hit 8-6.
--Field Level Media