Houston, TX – Chris Young's three-run home run in the ninth inning lifted the Oakland Athletics to a 6-5 win over the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Down 5-3, with Jose Veras (0-3) pitching for the Astros, pinch-hitter John Jaso drew a walk. Veras struck out Eric Sogard, but walked Coco Crisp. Young then hammered a 1-1 pitch deep into the stands in left to give Oakland its sixth win in seven games.
"We had some good at-bats in the ninth. Jaso walked, and then Coco walked and one swing of the bat puts you ahead," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Pat Neshek (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth and Grant Balfour escaped trouble in the ninth to notch his 10th save.
Seth Smith had a solo home run while Yoenis Cespedes and Luke Montz drove in one run apiece for the Athletics. Starter Tommy Milone gave up five runs on eight hits over seven innings.
J.D. Martinez smashed a three-run homer, Matt Dominguez hit a solo shot and Jose Altuve had an RBI for the Astros. Starter Erik Bedard allowed two runs on four hits and four walks in five frames.
"Every time you go up there you have the confidence that you're going to hit the ball hard. I think that's how guys get hot. When you're hitting the ball hard two or three times a game, that's building confidence," Martinez said.
Oakland scored two runs in the first. Crisp drew a walk to start the game, advanced to second on a single by Young and reached home on Cespedes' single to center. After Josh Donaldson was hit by a pitch, Young scored on a fielder's choice by Montz.
The Astros rallied to score five runs in the fifth, Dominguez homered to start the surge. Ronny Cedeno and Robbie Grossman connected on back-to-back singles before Altuve delivered an RBI single. Martinez followed with his three-run blast to left.
Smith, who pinch-hit for Montz, homered to begin the sixth.
Balfour came on to pitch in the ninth. He walked Dominguez and pinch-hitter Jason Castro with one out, but got Grossman to strike out and Altuve to hit a grounder towards the shortstop to end the game.
Veras came into the game having thrown seven no-hit innings in his last seven appearances ... Young has a 15-game hitting streak against Houston, dating back to Aug. 8, 2011 ... Balfour has converted each of his last 28 save opportunities. His last blown save was on April 29, 2012, in Baltimore ... Seven of the last eight Astros contests have been decided by two runs or less.