Alonso's 3-run homer gives Athletics 7-4 win over Astros
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) A's first basemen Yonder Alonso has spent the past few weeks doing extra with hitting coaches searching for anything to get him out of a dreadful funk.
He bursted out in a big way, hitting a three-run game-ending homer on Friday night to lift Oakland to a 7-4 win over the Houston Astros.
''I've just been trying to get back to what I know I can do and what they know I can do,'' he said.
Alonso's first homer of the year and first career game-ending one came on a 1-0 sinker off Pat Neshek. The ninth inning rally capped a comeback from a 4-2 deficit going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
''Obviously given the situation of the game, you know how we came back down 4-2 says a lot about our team and a lot about our bullpen (which) has been fantastic all year,'' Alonso said. ''We played good defense and we battled. Just a good team win.
''We needed that.''
The A's had lost five of their previous six games.
Alonso, who was hitting .154 going into Friday, is unlikely to forget any of it.
''Incredible,'' he said. ''You don't feel anything. You're flying around the bases and to be honest you get goose bumps running around and you just want to take it all in.''
Stephen Vogt started the decisive rally leading off the ninth with a double to left off reliever Tony Sipp (0-1).
Ryan Madsen (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for Oakland that started with Carlos Gomez getting thrown out at third trying to stretch a double to left.
Madsen was the fifth A's pitcher on the night.
Sean Manaea, a hard-throwing left-hander acquired from the Royals last season in the Ben Zobrist trade, became the 45th pitcher to start in his major league debut in franchise history.
The highly-touted left-hander allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in five-plus innings. He had three strikeouts and hit a batter.
''That was a really awesome way to get welcomed to the bigs,'' Manaea said. ''That was an unreal experience.''
Manaea, 24, impressed his Oakland teammates too.
''I thought he was great,'' Alonso said ''I think his command was great and his poise was incredible. That's what I really liked about him.''
Coco Crisp was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and Marcus Semien started a two-run rally in the eighth with a solo homer - his sixth.
Evan Gattis was 2 for 4 with a solo homer - the Astros' cleanup hitter's first.
Mike Fiers, looking to win his third straight start, allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five batters and allowed no walks.
He left the game with a 4-2 lead.
The Astros, who were expected to contend for the divisional title, lost for the eighth time in 10 games. They entered Friday tied for the league's worst record and haven't won consecutive games this season.
''We need to figure out how to win as a team,'' Fiers said. ''It feels like something always happens that we can't finish these game. We know we're good enough to win these games and I know we keep talking about it. We need to show it and stop talking.''
Astros manager A.J. Hinch echoed Fiers' frustration.
''What has been consistent is that every mistake we make has been magnified and comes back to haunt us,'' Hinch said.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (shoulder) will throw approximately 60 to 75 pitches in an extended spring training game on Monday in Florida, manager A.J. Hinch said. McCullers felt good after a rehab assignment on Wednesday and a bullpen session on Friday, Hinch said.
A's: RHP Henderson Alvarez (shoulder surgery), on a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton, Calif., will throw approximately 60 pitches or four innings for the Ports in Modesto on Saturday, manager Bob Melvin said. OF Sam Fuld (left shoulder), on the disabled list since the start of the season, will undergo surgery next month, Melvin said.
Astros: RHP Chris Devenski (0-0) will make his first major league start. The 25-year-old rookie is has excelled in six relief appearances, striking out 12 batters and allowing one run on 11 hits and one walk in 13 2/3 innings.
A's: RHP Jesse Hahn (0-0) had blister problems and started the season in the minors, going 0-1 with 2.04 ERA in four starts at Triple-A Nashville. He'll make his 2016 major league debut.
Astros IF Jose Altuve was 0-for-4, snapping a 19-game on-base streak (the second longest of his career and tied for the fourth longest in the majors this season). Altuve had hit safely in 26 of his previous 29 games at Oakland, including hitting in 20 straight from Sept. 5, 2013 to Aug. 9, 2015. In his last at-bat A's first baseman Alonso made a sliding catch past the edge of the grass near the camera well on an Altuve foul ball leading off the top of the seventh.