By Michael Wagaman
OAKLAND — Josh Reddick isn’t ready to declare himself out of an early season batting slump, not after the miserable start he got off to.
A pair of solid games at the plate sure has the Oakland outfielder feeling a lot better about things, however.
Reddick had hits in his last three at-bats, including an RBI single that capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning that lifted the Athletics over the Houston Astros 4-3 on Saturday.
“It feels good again after the first week of going up there thinking, ‘How am I even going to touch this baseball?'” Reddick said. “It’s a great turnaround, a great feeling to be back in the box with some confidence.”
Reddick’s single off Houston reliever Chad Qualls was the fourth game-ending hit of his career and continued a recent offensive surge for Oakland’s bearded outfielder. Reddick also had three hits and a home run in Friday’s 11-3 win after starting the season in a 4-for-41 rut.
“Sometimes it only takes one game where you get a couple of hits or a couple of balls up (and) you start to feel a lot better about yourself,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I think it was just a matter of being more confident.”
Jed Lowrie started the A’s comeback with a leadoff home run against Qualls (0-1).
Josh Donaldson walked and Yoenis Cespedes then singled. After Qualls struck out pinch-hitter John Jaso, Alberto Callaspo hit a tying single and Reddick followed with a one-out liner to right-center.
Dan Otero (3-0) pitched the ninth for the win after starter Scott Kazmir had gone eight strong innings.
Jonathan Villar homered and scored twice for Houston. The Astros lost their sixth in a row.
“We didn’t finish it out,” Houston manager Bo Porter said. “Our bullpen has been taxed and he was the most rested. We had the right guys out there. We just didn’t get it done.”
A day after scoring seven runs in the first inning and hitting four home runs overall, the A’s were kept mostly quiet until their outburst in the ninth.
Oakland had stranded 12 runners through the first eight innings and left the bases loaded in the sixth. They also left the potential tying runs on base in the fifth and eighth.
“That’s one of the best characteristics of this team,” Lowrie said. “We had that last year and we’re off to a good start this year of really grinding out those last inning at-bats and making it tough on the other guys, never making it easy on them.”
The Athletics’ rally in the ninth spoiled a solid effort from Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer, who allowed one run and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings but remains winless in four starts.
Oberholtzer pitched with runners on in each of the first five innings but limited the damage each time. He got Derek Norris to fly out with runners on the corners in the third, then speared Norris’ comebacker and threw to first to get out of another two-out, two-on jam in the fifth.
Kazmir allowed two earned runs and six hits. He struck out five and walked none.
The Astros got to Kazmir early when Villar homered on an 0-2 pitch in the third. Villar also doubled off the wall in left-center in the fifth and scored on a throwing error by Norris, the catcher.
Oakland tied it at 1 when Craig Gentry, who crashed into the fence while backpedaling chasing after Villar’s home run, hit an RBI double that scored Daric Barton.
Former A’s first baseman Chris Carter doubled and scored on Matt Dominguez’s RBI single in the fourth to put the Astros back in front.
The game was halted briefly with two outs in the top of the eighth when umpires lost track of the pitch count. A meeting was held near the mound before crew chief Mike Winters went to replay for clarification.