OAKLAND — Mauricio Dubón homered with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Houston Astros held off the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Sunday.
Yainer Diaz had two hits including his 11th home run for the Astros, who have won four of five and remain 3 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.
Jeremy Peña drew a one-out walk off Chad Smith (1-2) but missed a sign and was caught trying to steal second base. Dubón, hitless with two strikeouts in his previous four at-bats, then powered a 1-2 slider to center for his fifth home run of the season, tying his career high from the previous two seasons.
A versatile infielder who was traded to the Astros from San Francisco on May 14, 2022, Dubón has given Houston’s infield some stability after eight-time All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve went on the injured list with a left oblique strain in early July.
“I waited my whole life for this,” Dubón said. “I got people behind me that help me a lot and it keeps me grounded.”
Dubón’s big moment came seconds after Peña was caught in the rundown between first and second.
“We were very fortunate to win that game,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We just have to clean our act up some. (Dubón) has just tapped the surface of what his abilities are. We wouldn’t be close right now without Mauricio, especially as many games as Altuve has missed.”
Hector Neris (6-2) retired three batters and pitched out of a jam in the eighth with the go-ahead run on third. Bryan Abreu recorded the final three outs for his third save.
JJ Bleday homered and scored twice for the last-place A’s. Oakland has lost nine of 10 to Houston this season.
“This game was more frustrating than most because we had every opportunity to win this game,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “We had every chance to take control of that game. Offensively we didn’t perform today.”
The Astros trailed most of the game and were down 2-1 until Corey Julks’ bases-loaded walk with two outs in the seventh.
Oakland’s first two batters of the eighth reached but Neris worked out of the jam.
Bleday belted his eighth home run on a 3-2 pitch from Astros starter Hunter Brown in the first. The ball soared over the right field fence with an exit velocity of 108.7 mph and traveled an estimated 434 feet, Bleday’s longest homer this season.
After Diaz hit his home run off Luis Medina in the fifth to tie it, Bleday singled leading off the sixth, stole second and advanced to third when Diaz’s throw sailed into center field. Tyler Soderstrom, a first-round pick in 2020, then singled into center for his first career RBI as Bleday scored.
A day after tying their season-high with eight walks in a 4-1 win, the A’s backed their offense with solid defense.
The Astros failed to score after getting two on with one out in the first against A’s starter Luis Medina. Alex Bregman, who had homered in each of the three previous games, struck out swinging before Oakland rookie right fielder Cody Thomas made a spectacular diving catch to rob José Abreu of a hit.
The A’s loaded the bases against Brown in the third before the Astros’ pitcher induced a 5-2-3 double play and Bleday flew out.
Diaz’s 11 home runs are the second-most by an Astros rookie catcher.
Neither starting pitcher was around for the finish. Medina had a no-decision for the third time in his last six starts, allowing two hits and one run while throwing 93 pitches in five innings. Medina struck out six and walked three. In Brown’s third start against the A’s this season, he allowed six hits and two runs in six innings.
Astros: Altuve took batting practice again with no apparent setback. … LHP Parker Mushinski was called up from Triple-A Sugar Land. RHP Joel Kuhnel was optioned down.
Athletics: LHP Richard Lovelady (strained elbow) has been shut down for the remainder of the season, according Kotsay.
Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk (2-6, 6.75) pitches the opener of a two-game series in San Francisco on Tuesday. Waldichuk has pitched in 23 games this season including 10 in relief.
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