HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros were certainly disappointed to see their combined no-hit bid against the Oakland Athletics broken up with one out in the ninth on Wednesday night.
They took solace in getting a win that allowed them to avoid a sweep and maintain their lead in the AL West standings.
“That was huge,” slugger Yordan Alvarez said. “For us we couldn’t allow a sweep here at home after losing those first two games. So all the focus was on today’s game.”
Hunter Brown and the Astros held Oakland hitless until Ryan Noda’s one-out single in the ninth inning of the 6-2 victory that sent the Athletics to their first consecutive 100-loss seasons since the 1960s.
Brown pitched five innings, and Rafael Montero, Héctor Neris and Bryan Abreu followed with perfect innings each as Houston retired 11 straight batters.
Ryan Pressly retired Tony Kemp on a grounder leading off the ninth, then walked Zach Gelof. Nola grounded a changeup past Pressly and into center field for a single.
Seth Brown’s single and Shea Langeliers’ sacrifice fly drove in runs before Pressly finished the two-hitter by throwing a called third strike past Brent Rooker.
“We talk a lot about the grit, and they showed that in the ninth by taking some good at-bats and breaking through,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “Up to that point, it was a tough night. They pitched really well tonight. … To get to Pressly and get a couple runs, that shows that this group didn’t give up and shut it down and continued to fight.”
Abreu, Montero and Pressly were part of Houston’s last combined no-hitter, which Cristian Javier started in Game 4 of the World Series last season. Pressly and Neris finished another combined no-hitter by Javier against the Yankees on June 25, 2022.
Manager Dusty Baker said they didn’t talk about the no-hitter in the dugout Wednesday night, but that everyone was certainly thinking about it.
“I’m sure all the relievers were aware of it, conscious of it because they had been part of two other combined no-hitters,” he said. “So they knew, and Pressly was upset because he wanted to be part of it again. But it was spoiled.”
Oakland was held to two hits or fewer for the eighth time.
Alvarez hit a three-run homer and Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker had solo shots for the Astros, who maintained a one-game lead over second place Texas, with Seattle is another half-game back. Tucker’s home run was the 100th of his big league career.
After managing just two runs combined in the first two games of this series, the Astros were thrilled when Alvarez put three on the board with one mighty swing in the third inning Wednesday night.
“It felt good,” he said. “I needed that swing and so did the team. I felt that it was a lift that we needed.”
He added that he thought the shot to the second deck in right field that traveled 422 feet was the hardest ball he’s ever hit.
Brown (11-11) struck out seven in five innings, walked two and hit a batter, throwing 78 pitches. He had allowed 11 runs over his last two starts spanning 8 1/3 innings.
The A’s had not lost 100 games in back-to-back seasons since 1964-65 in Kansas City. The A’s joined their Kansas City replacement, the Royals, as 100-game losers this season.
Noda said it was a relief when he broke up the no-hitter. He said they can take a lot of positives from this series despite the tough way it ended.
“It says we are progressing,” he said. “It says we keep battling for each other. We keep coming every day wanting to win and expecting to win. I think that’s something that we keep talking about more as we keep going on, and as we keep talking about it, things like this series are going to happen.”
Paul Blackburn (4-5) allowed four runs, four hits and three walks in three innings, dropping to 0-5 with a 9.74 ERA in eight appearances against the Astros.
Alvarez and Bregman homered in a four-run third and Tucker went deep in the seventh against Easton Lucas. Yainer Diaz had an RBI double in the fifth.
Athletics: LHP Sean Newcomb (1-0, 0.75 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday in the first of a three game series against the Padres at home. Newcomb will be making his seventh appearance and second start with the A’s after begin acquired from the Giants on Aug. 21.
Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (9-3, 4.78 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday against the Royals in the first game of a three-game series in Kansas City. Javier has allowed at least three runs in each of his last five starts.