OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Yordan Alvarez cleared the bases with a go-ahead double in the ninth and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Elvis Andrus broke up Verlander’s no-hit bid with an RBI double in the seventh inning that tied the game at 1. Christian Bethancourt followed with a two-run homer, his first drive since 2016, to give Oakland a 3-1 lead.
Houston responded with four runs in the ninth, keyed by Alvarez’s three-run double. Aledmys Diaz and Alex Bregman also drove in runs for the Astros, who won their fourth in a row.
”If you’re going to be a championship team, you’ve got to have some come-from-behind wins,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. ”The guys came through big-time. What can I say? These guys didn’t quit.”
Verlander came within seven outs of his fourth career no-hitter, which would have tied Sandy Koufax for second-most in MLB history behind only Nolan Ryan’s seven. He also lost a no-hitter in the eighth inning against Minnesota on May 10, a sign the two-time Cy Young Award winner is back in prime form following Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for all of the 2021 season.
”Bittersweet, I guess,” Verlander said. ”I mean, we won. I had a good game until really one pitch. Andrus’ hit doesn’t really bother me, but the homer subsequent to that is one I’d really like to have back. Just a hanging curveball up and away.”
The A’s have not been no-hit since July 13, 1991, the longest streak in the majors.
Verlander finished with six strikeouts in seven innings, allowing three earned runs on two hits for a no-decision. Reliever Bryan Abreu (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
”J.V. was masterful,” Baker said. ”He gave us all he had.”
Andrus recorded his second RBI double of the game in the ninth to bring the A’s within one, but Ryan Pressly got Bethancourt to ground out, stranding the tying run at second for his 10th save.
Oakland starter Cole Irvin limited Houston to one run in 5 2/3 innings but didn’t factor into the decision. Closer Dany Jimenez (2-3) blew his second save, giving up four earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning.
The Athletics fell to 1-6 on their current 10-game homestand. Oakland’s 7-20 home record is the worst in the majors.
A’s manager Mark Kotsay was ejected for the second time in his managerial career. In the top of the eighth, Kotsay argued a close pitch to Alvarez from the dugout. When Kotsay went to the mound to remove Puk, he continued his argument with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, who threw him out of the game.
”I basically made a statement that I only asked about one pitch during the game, and that was the ejection,” Kotsay said. ”According to him, he told me he’d had enough of my asking and thus ejected me.”
Astros: OF Kyle Tucker returned to the lineup after missing three games with a left foot injury, finishing 1 for 4 with a single and a walk.
Athletics: 3B Kevin Smith returned after missing Tuesday’s game with a knee contusion, going 0 for 2 with a walk. … C Stephen Vogt (right knee sprain) caught five innings Tuesday on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Las Vegas, going 1 for 3 with a homer. … OF Stephen Piscotty, on the injured list since May 7 with left calf tightness, ran on the field and did plyometric exercises. … RHPs Brent Honeywell Jr. (right elbow) and Daulton Jefferies (thoracic outlet syndrome) played catch. Both are on the 60-day IL.
Astros: RHP Jose Urquidy (4-2, 4.80 ERA) faces the Royals for the first time in his career on Friday as Houston opens a three-game series in Kansas City.
Athletics: RHP James Kaprielian (0-2, 5.93) seeks his first win since Sept. 18, 2021 as Oakland welcomes the Boston Red Sox for a three-game series beginning Friday.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports