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Houston at Oakland

Scoreboard
Houston (47-94)0031000015112
Oakland (81-60) «01220200x7131

Donaldson powers A's into first place

CBSSports.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics are in sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time in more than a month.

It's just not that big of a deal to Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson had three hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning, and the A's beat the Houston Astros 7-5 on Friday night to jump ahead of Texas in the division.

Jed Lowrie added two hits and two RBIs for Oakland, which has won six of eight. Yoenis Cespedes and Nate Freiman had two hits apiece.

The A's grabbed a half-game lead over the Rangers, who lost 6-5 at the Los Angeles Angels. But it was around this time last year that Oakland began its late push to overtake Texas for the division crown.

"It doesn't matter until the end of the season, we know that too well," Donaldson said. "We're really not trying to focus on it right now. We're trying to take care of our business."

A.J. Griffin (13-9) gave up four runs over six innings but matched his career high of nine strikeouts to win his third straight decision.

Matt Dominguez drove in a pair of runs for Houston after sitting out the past three games with a sinus infection.

The A's trailed 3-1 and 4-3 before scoring twice in the fourth on Lowrie's RBI single and a groundout by Cespedes.

Donaldson doubled and scored in the third, and then singled and scored in the fourth. But his big blow came in the sixth, a towering drive to center against reliever Phil Humber that gave Oakland a 7-4 lead.

Donaldson went 3 for 5 and is batting .349 with two homers and nine RBIs in 17 games this season against major league-worst Houston (47-94).

Eight of the A's nine starters had at least one hit, and five different players drove in runs.

"That shows that we have multiple ways that we can score runs," Donaldson said. "That's what it takes. If you're going to score seven, eight runs, it's not all the time going to come by the long ball. It's going to come by guys manufacturing and having good approaches at the plate."

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook combined to retire six batters, and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 37th save.

The Astros, who had won three of the previous four games in the season series, got the tying run on base in the ninth after an error by second baseman Eric Sogard allowed Jonathan Villar to score.

Balfour got Jason Castro to ground into a fielder's choice, and then fanned Dominguez to end the game.

"The at-bats were tremendous, especially in the ninth inning," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "I really felt like Dominguez was going to get a base hit there. It's unfortunate we came up short."

It was an appropriate end to the back-and-forth contest.

Houston scored three times in the third to open a 3-1 lead. Dominguez had a two-run single and Jose Altuve also drove in a run with a base hit.

Oakland tied it in the bottom half when Lowrie doubled in Donaldson and scored on Freiman's single.

Villar drove in Brett Wallace with a bunt single in the fourth, putting the Astros back in front. The lead didn't last very long, with Oakland going in front for good in the bottom half.

Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (5-9) struggled in his third start against the A's this season, allowing 10 hits and five runs in just 3 2-3 innings.

He was hurt by his defense.

Left fielder Chris Carter dropped Brandon Moss' routine fly ball in the sixth. First baseman Wallace later dropped a foul ball in the eighth for another error.

Notes

A's CF Coco Crisp has an extra-base hit in seven consecutive games, the longest streak by an Oakland player since 2003. ... Villar finished with three hits. ... Houston CF Brandon Barnes was ejected in the sixth inning after arguing with home plate umpire Alan Porter from the Astros' dugout. Barnes appeared to get hit by a pitch from Griffin earlier in the inning but Porter ruled otherwise. Barnes then struck out. ... Castro (right knee) was back in the Houston lineup as the DH after missing three games. Bo Porter did not know when Castro would be able to catch again. ... A's RF Josh Reddick (right wrist) is expected to take batting practice on the field Tuesday in Minnesota. ... Brett Oberholtzer (4-1), coming off Houston's first shutout of the season, takes on Dan Straily (8-7) in the third game of the series.

 
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Josh Donaldson collects three hits as the A's, after the Rangers fall, move into first place.  (USATSI)
Josh Donaldson collects three hits as the A's, after the Rangers fall, move into first place. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Oakland

J. Donaldson
AB 5
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
Houston

J. Villar
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jonathan Villar, SS5231020 .276
Jose Altuve, 2B5121012 .277
Trevor Crowe, RF-CF5121002 .258
Jason Castro, DH5000022 .278
Matt Dominguez, 3B5012042 .238
Chris Carter, LF4010011 .220
Brett Wallace, 1B3120100 .231
Brandon Barnes, CF2000021 .244
   L.J. Hoes, RF1000012 .250
Cody Clark, C2000020 .000
   a-Marc Krauss, PH1000000 .165
Totals385115115  
a-grounded out for Clark in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jonathan Villar (8, Griffin), Trevor Crowe (4, Griffin), Chris Carter (20, Cook)
SH - Cody Clark (1)
RBI - Jonathan Villar (4), Jose Altuve (45), Trevor Crowe (9), Matt Dominguez 2 (68)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Dominguez 2 (20)
SB - Jonathan Villar (13, 2nd base off Griffin/Norris)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Dominguez-Wallace
E - Chris Carter (4, Dropped line drive), Brett Wallace (4, Dropped fly)
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Dallas Keuchel (L,5-9) 3.11055230 4.99
Philip Humber 3.2322231 8.27
Lo Chia-Jen 1000010 4.85
IBB - Young by Dallas Keuchel
Pitches-Strikes - Dallas Keuchel 95-61, Philip Humber 56-32, Lo Chia-Jen 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dallas Keuchel 5-1, Philip Humber 2-7, Lo Chia-Jen 1-1
Batters Faced - Dallas Keuchel 21, Philip Humber 17, Lo Chia-Jen 3
Oakland Athletics
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Coco Crisp, CF3210203 .260
Josh Donaldson, 3B5332003 .296
Jed Lowrie, SS5122020 .288
Yoenis Cespedes, LF5121010 .233
Nate Freiman, DH4021011 .282
   a-Seth Smith, PH-DH1000000 .240
Alberto Callaspo, 2B4010002 .258
Chris Young, RF3011101 .193
Brandon Moss, 1B3000124 .248
Derek Norris, C3010011 .233
   b-Stephen Vogt, PH-C1000002 .255
Totals37713747  
a-grounded out for Freiman in the 8th
b-lined out for Norris in the 7th
Batting
2B - Josh Donaldson (33, Keuchel), Jed Lowrie (42, Keuchel)
3B - Coco Crisp (3, Humber)
HR - Josh Donaldson (21, Humber)
RBI - Josh Donaldson 2 (82), Jed Lowrie 2 (61), Yoenis Cespedes (63), Nate Freiman (24), Chris Young (36)
SB - Josh Donaldson (4, 3rd base off Humber/Clark)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
E - Eric Sogard (7, Misplayed grounder)
Oakland Athletics
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
A.J. Griffin (W,13-9) 6744190 3.91
Sean Doolittle (H,23) 1.1000030 3.49
Ryan Cook (H,21) 0.2200020 2.04
Grant Balfour (S,37) 1211010 2.59
WP - Grant Balfour (8)
HBP - Barnes (by A.J. Griffin)
Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Griffin 98-66, Sean Doolittle 18-11, Ryan Cook 15-10, Grant Balfour 35-20
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Griffin 2-7, Grant Balfour 3-0
Batters Faced - A.J. Griffin 27, Sean Doolittle 4, Ryan Cook 4, Grant Balfour 6
Game Information
Attendance - 15502
Game Time - 3:26
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Al Porter, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Jerry Layne