Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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Donaldson drives in three as A's top Astros

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[August 26, 2014]  HOUSTON -- When Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson capped a three-hit night with a two-run double in the ninth inning Monday, the Athletics reclaimed a comfortable lead that an inning earlier appeared tenuous.

The Athletics scored five runs in the ninth, pulling away from the Houston Astros for an 8-2 victory at Minute Maid Park.

Donaldson finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two doubles and a stolen base. His ninth-inning hit to left field off Houston right-hander Jose Veras extended the lead to 6-2 and stymied the Astros for good.

"I felt pretty good," said Donaldson, who is dealing with a sore left knee. "I was able to get a couple of pitches to hit and had a couple of strong at-bats. I just tried to lock it in, and Coco (Crisp) and Sogey (Eric Sogard) and those guys did a good job of getting on base in front of me."

Oakland right-hander Jeff Samardzija was one out shy of completing eight shutout innings and earning a chance to return to the mound for the ninth. However, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve extended the frame with an infield single, setting the stage for scuffling slugger Chris Carter to do what he does best: change the game with one swing.

Carter, 0-for-3 on the night and 2-for-22 with 14 strikeouts over his last six-plus games, crushed a 1-2, four-seam fastball the opposite way and over the fence in right, driving home Altuve and cutting the Astros' deficit to 3-2. Carter produced similar theatrics at Yankee Stadium last Tuesday, striking out four times before delivering a game-winning, three-run home run in the ninth.

Carter's 31st homer effectively ended the night for Samardzija, who nevertheless completed eight strong innings.

Samardzija (6-10) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with a season-high-tying 10 strikeouts. He also fanned 10 against the San Francisco Giants on May 26 while pitching for the Chicago Cubs.

"Really aggressive today, better split," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said of Samardzija. "Mixed in the slider and split more so but had a really good fastball when he needed it. Looked like he spotted it up, down, in and out. It all starts with his fastball. Had good command of it, good velocity, too. Saw some 97s."

Oakland answered the Houston rally with four consecutive walks off Astros left-hander Tony Sipp to open the ninth. Veras inherited three baserunners and a two-run deficit before surrendering the double to Donaldson and a two-run single to right to catcher Derek Norris.

"Tony Sipp has been good all year," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It's one of those things where he lost command. Obviously, those guys were patient enough that they waited it out and took the walks that were given to them."

On the heels of two subpar appearances, Samardzija provided the Athletics exactly what was needed from the opening pitch.

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Samardzija retired the side in order in the first inning, worked around a pair of two-out baserunners in the second, then surrendered just two singles over his next three frames while striking out four batters during that stretch. The fifth inning marked just the second time Samardzija retired the Astros (55-77) in order, but with just 68 pitches on his ledger by that stage and armed with a three-run lead, he appeared in complete control.

Astros right-hander Scott Feldman (7-10) matched Samardzija early, but after retiring the side in order in the first and working around two baserunners in the second, Feldman surrendered a run-scoring double to Donaldson with two outs in the third.

Oakland (77-53) extended the lead in the fourth when right fielder Josh Reddick bashed an 0-1 cutter into the right field seats for a two-run home run. The Reddick blast, his 10th of the season, followed a one-out, opposite-field single by left fielder Brandon Moss and gave the Athletics a 3-0 advantage.

Feldman, who cleared waivers according to reports, allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts in seven innings.

"I did see that," Feldman said of the waiver claim. "When I'm pitching, I don't think about that. Human nature, you kind of wonder what is going to happen. When I'm playing, I think about the guy I'm facing, and we will see what happens."

NOTES: Astros RHP Brad Peacock completed a throwing session without complication Monday, and he remains on schedule to make his next start Wednesday against Oakland. Peacock was removed from his Friday outing at Cleveland after five innings with right forearm discomfort. ... Athletics C John Jaso was placed on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday with a concussion. C Geovany Soto, acquired Sunday from the Texas Rangers, replaced Jaso on the active roster. ... A's manager Bob Melvin announced LHP Drew Pomeranz as the starter for Wednesday's series finale. With Pomeranz currently at Triple-A Sacramento, Oakland will make a corresponding roster move that most likely will involve optioning a position player.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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