HOUSTON — Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle wishes he could have Saturday night’s outing back.
“That was just unacceptable,” Doolittle said, taking the blame for the Athletics’ 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
Doolittle (0-2) faced four batters in Houston’s four-run eighth inning and each one of them got a single. Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro had consecutive RBI singles before Luke Gregerson came in.
“It was just one of those nights, and that’s what’s frustrating because I looked at the film and don’t have a lot of answers,” Doolittle said. “I couldn’t get anybody out.”
George Springer and Marc Krauss added run-scoring groundouts as Houston opened a 7-3 lead.
“Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff,” Doolittle said. “And if you want to be the guy who’s counted on repeatedly in those situations you’re going to have to figure out how to get it done.”
Brandon Moss made it close for the A’s, hitting a three-run homer in the ninth against Jerome Williams (1-1). Nick Punto then singled, but Coco Crisp bounced into a fielder’s choice and Raul Valdes struck out John Jaso and Jed Lowrie for his first save.
It was a frustrating ending for Oakland after it won its previous two games against the Astros by a combined 22-6, and then put together an early 2-0 lead with starter Dan Straily on the mound.
Fowler went deep in the first for the Astros, and Chris Carter connected for a two-run shot in the second that gave Houston a 3-2 lead.
“Eliminate the homers, and I’ll be doing just fine,” Straily said. “For me, my best pitch (Saturday) definitely wasn’t my fastball. It was probably my fourth-best pitch, so I just worked around that and figured out a way to get as many outs with what I had in the tank.”
Straily struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and walked two.
“He settled down,”said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. “Early on, he was a bit on the run; they got some good swings on him early and hit some balls out of the ballpark, and then in the sixth inning he strikes down the side.
“He ended up recovering, and that’s good to see.”
Oakland got to Dallas Keuchel for two runs in the first. Lowrie singled in Crisp, and Derek Norris scored when cleanup hitter Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play.
The Athletics trailed 3-2 until Crisp drove in Craig Gentry with a sacrifice fly against Williams in the seventh.