HOUSTON (AP) — Houston manager Dusty Baker likened Yordan Alvarez to an NBA player with the ball in his hands and the game on the line after the slugger lifted his team a win Saturday with one mighty swing.
“We kind of expect it and the fans expect it and he hit it,” Baker said. “It’s kind of like how you expect the superstars of the NBA to take the last shot. Everybody knows it and he still sinks it.”
Alvarez hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning to propel the Astros to a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics to extend their season-long winning streak to six games.
The game was tied at 2-2 with no outs in the eighth when Alvarez sent a pitch from Richard Lovelady (0-2) into the seats in right field for his team-leading 10th homer this season.
“I’m just, just trying to focus, make good contact on the ball, put the ball in play,” Alvarez said in Spanish through a translator. “Thankfully today, we got a really good result because of it.”
The Athletics have allowed at least one home run in a franchise-record 23 straight games and have given up an MLB-leading 81 homers this year.
Jose Altuve doubled in a two-run first inning for Houston for his first hit of the year after going 0 for 4 in his season debut Friday night. Altuve missed the first 43 games after fracturing his right thumb in the World Baseball Classic.
“He got us started like he always has,” Baker said. “I always say jump ’em early and he jumpstarted us today.”
Alvarez also drove in a run in the first inning and Kyle Tucker added an RBI.
Hector Neris (3-1) allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth for the win. Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
Oakland’s Esteury Ruiz had two hits and two stolen bases, giving him an MLB-leading 23 this season as the A’s dropped their third straight.
Altuve got things going for the Astros with a leadoff double before Alex Bregman singled to send him to third. Houston took a 1-0 lead when Altuve scored on a sacrifice fly by Alvarez.
There were two outs in the inning when Bregman stole second base. He scored on a single by Tucker that made it 2-0.
Ryan Noda doubled to start the fourth and the A’s cut it to 2-1 when Brent Rooker singled on a grounder to center field.
Ruiz singled with no outs in the sixth before collecting his 22nd stolen base when he swiped second. Martín Maldonado made an error on the play to allow Ruiz to reach third.
Oakland tied it when Ruiz scored on a sacrifice fly by Noda.
The Astros had a chance to take the lead in the seventh when they had runners on first and second with two outs. But Bregman grounded out on the eighth pitch of his at-bat to end the inning.
Ruiz singled with one out in the eighth. He stole second base and reached third on another error by Maldonado after a strikeout by Noda. But he was left stranded when Neris retired Rooker.
Oakland starter JP Sears settled down after his rough first inning, allowing just one hit over the next five innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
“You love to see that in a young starter,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “He battled through that first inning and kept his composure and went out and gave his team a chance to win.”
Houston rookie Hunter Brown allowed five hits and two runs with a career-high nine strikeouts in six innings.
Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk was feeling better Saturday after leaving Friday night’s start in the sixth inning with a mild left calf strain, and Kotsay said he’s hopeful that the injury won’t cause him to miss a start. … RHP Drew Rucinski was placed on the 15-day injured list Saturday, retroactive to Wednesday, with a stomach illness. RHP James Kaprielian was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot on the roster and is scheduled to start Sunday.
Houston’s Framber Valdez (3-4, 2.84 ERA) opposes Kaprielian (0-3, 10.17) in the series finale Sunday.