Valbuena's three-run HR in ninth sends Astros past A's
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[July 09, 2016]
HOUSTON -- With two runners on
base and his club trailing by two runs, Houston Astros manager A.J.
Hinch was considering the right strategic play for the moment when
Luis Valbuena stepped to the plate.
Valbuena quickly eliminated the need for Hinch to consider his
options any longer.
Valbuena belted a first-pitch, three-run, walk-off home run to right
field to cap a wild ninth inning and lift the Houston Astros to a
10-9 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night at Minute
The third baseman reached the upper deck for the third time in four
games, his 12th home run coming against Athletics closer Ryan Madson
After Jose Altuve produced a one-out single and Carlos Correa
reached on a wild pitch after striking out, Hinch pondered how to
put Valbuena in the most advantageous position to at least square
the game with a base hit.
Instead, the Astros (47-40) were walk-off winners one pitch later.
"Obviously Louie up to bat in a good spot he's going to make good
decisions and swing at good pitches," Hinch said. "I never expect
the home run but I expected a good at-bat and I expected barrel
contact because the way Louie has been swinging the bat."
The Athletics (37-50) mounted a stunning rally of their own in the
top of the ninth, with Khris Davis drilling a two-run double off
Michael Feliz (6-1), the Athletics' fourth extra-base hit in the
inning, for an 8-7 lead.
The Athletics initiated their comeback against Astros closer Will
Harris, who had made 37 appearances without surrendering an
extra-base hit this season.
That streak ended when Billy Butler opened the ninth with a double
and completely collapsed after Yonder Alonso followed with a two-run
homer and Jed Lowrie added a one-out double.
Davis followed his double to deep left-center field and scored on
the ensuing at-bat when Josh Reddick added an RBI single to right
"Any time they are taking their closer out of the game with one out,
it means we put good at-bats together," Athletics manager Bob Melvin
said. Then (Davis) gets something he can handle, and all of a sudden
we have the lead."
The Astros lead 7-4 entering the ninth behind Correa, who finished
2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, and their four-run fifth.
They shook off a sluggish start against former Astros farmhand
Daniel Mengden with a methodical approach while erasing a 3-0
Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez both went 2-for-5 with an RBI, with
Altuve also scoring twice. Oakland tagged Astros starter Collin
McHugh for three runs in the fourth, including three successive hits
to open the inning.
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Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena (18) beats the throw to Oakland
Athletics first baseman Yonder Alonso (17) in the eighth inning at
Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Vogt scored Danny Valencia with his triple to center field
and scored himself when Butler followed with an RBI single. Marcus
Semien later added his 19th home run for a 3-0 lead, but McHugh
recovered to pitch into the seventh inning, allowing just two more
hits before giving way to right-hander Ken Giles with two on and no
Giles and Luke Gregerson followed with one perfect inning each, but
the Athletics rallied against Harris only for Houston to do the same
"Nobody put their heads down," said Valbuena, who finished 3-for-5
with four RBIs. "Everybody tried to do something in every at-bat.
You see everybody tried to get on base and you see what happened."
Correa homered in the fourth to plate Altuve and cut the deficit to
3-2. The Astros strung together four consecutive run-scoring at-bats
in the fifth to chase Mengden and surge ahead. But Oakland clawed
back and managed a big inning of its own only to have victory
"It's tough. I don't know," said Alonso, whose ninth-inning home run
was his fourth of the season. "It's just part of the game. It
happened pretty quick. It's just tough, real tough."
NOTES: Astros LF Colby Rasmus was not in the starting lineup due to
an ear infection. It was not unusual for the left-handed-hitting
Rasmus to sit against Athletics LHP Rich Hill in the series opener,
but Rasmus was unable to go against RHP Daniel Mengden on Friday.
Rasmus is batting .118 with one home run and three RBIs in six games
this month after closing June with four multi-hit games in his last
five starts. ... Athletics CF Coco Crisp was suspended one game for
tossing his bat at plate umpire D.J. Reyburn following his ejection
on Thursday night. Crisp was protesting balls and strikes with his
actions, with his bat striking Reyburn in the lower extremities.
Crisp served his suspension on Friday. ... Astros RF George Springer
finished second to Blue Jays OF Michael Saunders on the American
League Final Vote Ballot for a roster spot in the All-Star Game.
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