Astros hold off A's 5-4 in 11 after 9 scoreless innings
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Houston Astros aren't shy about celebrating their quick start, even if the season is less than a month old.
Pulling out an extra-inning win against a division rival after blowing a two-run lead certainly made them feel good. For a team that's had trouble getting going in April, it could mean even more.
Robbie Grossman singled home two runs in the 11th inning, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Friday night to match their best start in eight years.
''The way we started the last couple of years was horrible, so anything better than that is going to give us confidence,'' Houston starter Dallas Keuchel said. ''This win is extra rewarding, but at the same time every win is crucial. You take it when you can get it.''
Keuchel pitched nine scoreless innings but was in the clubhouse when Grossman delivered the go-ahead hit.
Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus drew walks from Eric O'Flaherty (0-2) to begin Houston's rally. After Hank Conger's sacrifice moved the runners up, Grossman lined a 3-0 pitch to left.
Grossman had gone hitless in his previous four at-bats and was in an 0-for-9 funk before his clutch hit.
Jose Altuve added an RBI single, and that proved to be the difference after the A's scored twice in the bottom half against Pat Neshek.
''We had that game won twice and we didn't finish (it) until the very end,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''One of the things I've learned is that we compete, we play, until the end. We compete for 27 outs. Tonight it was more.''
Luke Gregerson (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the 10th. Chad Qualls retired one batter with two runners on for his second save.
The Astros improved to 9-7, equaling their best start since 2007.
Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer for Oakland, which has dropped four of six.
''It went from a starting pitching duel to a slugfest late in the game,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''We got down and then we came back. You have to look at the positives in it. We continued to fight.''
Houston grabbed a 2-0 lead in the 10th on Marwin Gonzalez's two-run double with two outs.
Oakland tied it when pinch-hitter Josh Reddick doubled in two runs off Gregerson with two outs.
The late scoring was in stark contrast to the pitching duel between Keuchel and Scott Kazmir.
Keuchel pitched nine innings of two-hit ball. He struck out four and walked two.
Kazmir, who beat the Astros 11 days earlier, almost matched Keuchel. He gave up five hits and walked three with a season-high seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Altuve singled three times to extend his hitting streak against the A's to 27 games. It's the longest hitting streak by any Houston player against one team.
Astros: RHP Josh Fields was activated from the disabled list, though the move had been announced earlier this week. ... Because Houston won't get another off day until May 11, Hinch said the team will continue to carry 13 pitchers. ... OF Jake Marisnick was kept out of the starting lineup because of leg soreness he had while running from first to third against Seattle on Wednesday.
Athletics: Oakland closer Sean Doolittle threw 15 pitches on flat ground and hopes to increase to 20 on Sunday. He is working his way back from a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder. ... OF Coco Crisp (elbow) took dry swings and played catch but there is still no timetable for his return. ... RHP Jarrod Parker gave up three earned runs in 3 2-3 innings for Class A Stockton on Thursday. Parker, on the mend from elbow surgery, will make another rehab start Tuesday.
Astros: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2) is the first Houston pitcher since 2008 to go at least five innings and allow one walk or fewer in his first three starts of a season.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1) has made it out of the fourth inning only once this year - when he went 5 1-3 innings to beat the Astros on April 14.