The Oakland Athletics have rallied to win game after game this season after trailing late.
So it was no surprise that they did it again on Wednesday night thanks to Sam Fuld’s tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth inning that gave Oakland a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros.
It was their major league-leading 12th win this season when behind after seven innings and they’ve scored 28 runs against the Astros in the ninth this year.
The A’s trailed by one entering the ninth before Eric Sogard’s RBI single, and Fuld’s two-out shot off Chad Qualls (1-4) landed in the seats in right field to put Oakland up 5-3.
Fuld, who entered on a 0-for-9 skid, finished three hits, including a double.
“They’ve played several games like that this year where they’ve fought like crazy, been down, gone back and forth and then found enough with some great at-bats at the end to get it done,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Not quite the first time they’ve done that.”
Oakland is one game behind the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West lead. The A’s have won five of eight entering a four-game series against the Angels following a five-game losing streak.
“Certainly wasn’t our best baseball game, but shoot, you can’t be picky at this point,” Fuld said. “We’ll take any win we can get. Sometimes it’s the sort of win that can kind of get momentum going, knowing we can win without playing our best.”
Fuld’s home run was just his third this season.
“We’ve seen him do a lot of things,” Melvin said. “He can beat you defensively with his legs. Certainly with his bat you don’t expect him to hit home runs that put you ahead, but he’s a great fit for us.”
Qualls has been solid for the Astros this season, but has struggled against the Athletics, allowing 11 runs in six appearances against the team.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really had an opponent that’s been as rough as the A’s,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball well this year, but every time the A’s come to town they have my number. You look back on it and I thought I threw the ball pretty well and the scoreboard just doesn’t dictate that at all.”
Dan Otero (8-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win. Eric O’Flaherty allowed a solo homer to Chris Carter with two outs in the ninth before retiring Dexter Fowler for his first save since May 2013.
Houston trailed 2-1 in the seventh after Coco Crisp’s solo home run in the top of the inning, then tied it on Robbie Grossman’s RBI single.
Jose Altuve’s big league-leading 181st hit put Houston on top 3-2. The groundball single rolled just out of reach of a diving Alberto Callaspo and into shallow right field. Altuve also swiped two bases, giving him an AL-high 49 steals.
Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly put Oakland ahead 1-0 in the sixth.
Oakland starter Drew Pomeranz, recalled from Triple-A Sacramento before the game, allowed one run – none earned – and three hits in 5 1-3 innings in his first major league appearance since June 16. He struck out seven.
Houston’s Brad Peacock also lasted 5 1-3 innings, allowing one run, four hits and five walks.
Carter has 33 homers this season. He has homered in three straight games and has hit 20 home runs since July 1.
Athletics: Melvin said he expects SS Jed Lowrie (broken right index finger) to be ready for an injury rehabilitation assignment this weekend if there are no issues the next two days. INF Nick Punto (hamstring) is getting better, but is behind Lowrie because he still isn’t able to run at full speed.
Astros: Reliever Darin Downs (strained muscle on his right side) is to start a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday and is expected to pitch there on Sunday.
The Astros open a four-game series against Texas on Thursday, with Collin McHugh scheduled to pitch against Nick Tepesch. Oakland travels to start a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Sonny Gray opposes C.J. Wilson in the opener on Thursday.