The Astros' ace joins some elite company while Houston breaks a first-place tie with the A's.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Justin Verlander pitched just well enough to earn his 200th career win and the Houston Astros hit five home runs, beating the Oakland Athletics 9-4 Sunday to avoid a sweep and retake sole possession of the AL West lead.
The surging A’s had won the first two games at the Coliseum to tie shaky Houston atop the division. But Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer in the third inning and Evan Gattis, Alex Bergman, Marwin Gonzalez and Martin Maldonado later homered for the defending World Series champions. Maldonado also tripled and doubled.
Verlander (12-8), who has not given up more than four runs in any of his 20 career games against the A’s, entered the day with a major league-leading 1.74 ERA on the road. Matt Chapman and Khris Davis hit solo homers off Verlander in the first inning, and Davis added his 36th homer, a two-run drive, in the third that made it 4-all.
Gattis put the Astros ahead for good in the fourth with his 24th home run.
Verlander gave up four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out six but gave up three home runs and has allowed 25 this season. He became the 114th pitcher with at least 200 career wins.
Brad Peacock took over for Verlander in the sixth, with two runners on and one out. He struck out Stephen Piscotty on a full count, walked Marcus Semien and got Mark Canha swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Four Houston relievers shut down the A’s on one hit over 3 2/3 innings.
The Astros won for the second time in nine game. The Athletics had won 13 of their past 16 games to draw even with Houston.
After allowing six runs in three previous August starts combined, Sean Manaea (11-9) gave up six in four-plus innings against the Astros.