Rookie J.P. France pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his career, Kyle Tucker hit a two-run double and the Houston Astros opened a four-game series against the host Oakland Athletics with a 3-1 triumph Thursday night
Alex Bregman chipped in with a ninth-inning home run, while Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly got the final six outs in hitless fashion, helping the Astros hold on for their seventh straight win over the A's this season
France (5-3), who won his third straight decision, pitched from behind most of the night after serving up a leadoff walk in the first inning to Tony Kemp and an RBI double to Seth Brown with two outs.
But Oakland, which was coming off consecutive home wins over the Boston Red Sox, managed no more runs and just five other hits against the rookie, who walked one and struck out five in his seven-plus innings.
Up 2-1, France took the mound for the eighth and lost Cody Thomas to an inning-opening single at the end of an 11-pitch battle.
Abreu took over and, after Aledmys Diaz sacrificed Thomas to second and Kemp drew a walk, the right-hander struck out JJ Bleday and Jordan Diaz to retain the one-run advantage.
Given a two-run cushion by Bregman's 14th homer in the top of the ninth, Pressly notched his 22nd save with a 1-2-3 ninth for the Astros, who improved to 4-2 on a nine-game trip
France was losing a duel with fellow rookie Hogan Harris (2-4), who had retired 12 in a row and 17 of 18 at one point. But back-to-back singles by Mauricio Dubon and Jeremy Pena with two outs in the sixth set the table for Tucker, who lashed his go-ahead double to left-center field.
Hogan finished the inning and called it a night, allowing two runs and four hits in his six innings. He struck out six and did not walk anyone.
Freddy Tarnok limited Houston to one hit -- Bregman's homer -- in three innings of relief.
The low-scoring affair featured just four extra-base hits. Brown and Zack Gelof had doubles for the A's.
Brown finished with two hits for Oakland, which out-hit the visitors 6-5.
--Field Level Media