HOUSTON — The Oakland Athletics weren’t concerned when they were down by two runs entering the seventh inning on Wednesday against the Houston Astros.
They hit three homers after the seventh inning in the first two games of the series combined and saw no reason their late flashes of power would stop in this one.
Coco Crisp hit a two-run homer in Oakland’s three-run seventh inning to help the Athletics to a 4-3 win over the Astros on Wednesday.
“What it does is it gives us the confidence that we can come back,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the late homers. “And then we know that when we get a guy on base we’re one hit away from being in a better position than we were.”
The A’s trailed by two before an RBI double by Eric Sogard with one out cut the deficit to 3-2 and chased starter Bud Norris. Crisp launched his home run off Travis Blackley (1-1) to the Crawford Boxes in left field to put Oakland on top.
“I don’t think we rely on home runs, we just go up there and battle,” Crisp said. “It just so happens that’s how this series broke down. We just go out there and battle and try to manufacture runs in any way that we can.”
Blackley was disappointed that he didn’t execute against Crisp.
“I just didn’t do my job,” he said. “I got ahead like I was trying to do and I just left one about three inches too high and he did his job well and took care of it.”
John Jaso had a solo homer in the first inning for the A’s, who have won 11 of 12 against Houston this season. It was the 21st win for Oakland in a one-run game which is the most in the American League.
A.J. Griffin (9-7) allowed six hits and three runs and tied a season-high with eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings for the win.
“I felt like I had the best stuff I’ve had this year,” he said. “My lanes were good to the plate with all my pitches. I felt like I was doing a good job of keeping my delivery the same for every pitch and keeping them off-balance for the most part. That was the most locked in I’ve felt in a long time, pretty much all year.”
He continued to be plagued by the long ball though, giving up two more on Wednesday to give him 23 this season which is tied for second-most in the majors.
He joked about adding to his home run total.
“That’s pretty me, I guess,” he said.
Jose Altuve tied it at 1-1 with a homer in the fourth inning and Carlos Corporan’s two-run homer gave Houston a 3-1 lead in the sixth.
Norris yielded four hits and three runs with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. It could be the last start for Norris as an Astro at Minute Maid Park with the trade deadline approaching and Houston embarking on a 10-game road trip.
As the highest paid player on this rebuilding team with a $3 million salary, Norris, who has spent his entire career with the Astros, has been the subject of trade speculation.
“It’s something that I prepared myself for (Tuesday) night and the days leading up to it,” Norris said. “So it definitely was a little emotional and the fans really knew about it too which was pretty special. I just went out there and threw a good ball game as best I could and gave my team a chance to win. Unfortunately it was a tough one.”
Norris pitched better than he had in his last two tough starts where he allowed 17 hits and 13 runs combined in two losses.
The Astros had a chance to tie it in the eighth inning with runners at first and second and one out. But Jesse Chavez retired Corporan before Ryan Cook came in and got Brett Wallace on a flyout to end the threat. Cook remained in for the ninth and got his second save.
Jaso’s homer to with one out in the first inning gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. Norris got right back on track after that and struck out Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie to end the inning.
Griffin didn’t allow a hit until Marc Krauss singled with two outs in the third inning. Altuve opened Houston’s fourth with his fourth home run of the season to tie it.
Jason Castro hit a double with one-out in the sixth before Corporan’s two-out shot to the seats in right field put Houston up 3-1.
Norris had retired seven in a row before Jaso walked to start the sixth inning. Norris then plunked Josh Donaldson, but he escaped the jam by sitting down the next three batters, ending the inning by striking out Brandon Moss.
Yoenis Cespedes was back in the lineup after not starting five games because of a sore left wrist and hit a single in the second inning. The Home Run Derby champ made his first appearance since the All-Star break as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday night.