Morton, Peacock face off again in Astros-A's matchup

OAKLAND, Calif. -- When the Houston Astros swept a doubleheader from the New York Mets on Sept. 2 at Minute Maid Park, Charlie Morton gave up two runs in five innings in the opener and Brad Peacock allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings in the nightcap.

Morton and Peacock will team up again Saturday in a doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.

Morton will make his second career start against the A's in the opener against rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett. Then in the second game, Peacock will face Daniel Mengden, another rookie right-hander.

Morton's last start came in the Astros' first home game since Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and south Texas. It was an emotional day that included a pregame ceremony and moment of silence for the storm's victims.

"(Before) the national anthem there was a moment of silence," Morton (11-6, 3.87 ERA) said. "During the anthem, they had the state flag of Texas next to the big American flag, and (manager) A.J. (Hinch) spoke and he really did a great job. So I thought it was handled really, really well for our first home game.

"I think it was a good moment for the city and for the team and the guys. There were solemn moments, obviously, but just in terms of the overall feeling it was a good thing."

Morton struck out nine, walked one and allowed six hits in the Astros' 12-8 victory. Morton was also the winning pitcher on April 28 in Houston's 9-4 victory over the A's at Minute Maid Park. He struck out a career-high 12 batters, walked none and allowed four runs and five hits, including two home runs by Khris Davis.

"I feel like I pitched well against the A's and not very well against Khris Davis," Morton said. "Obviously, he's on the team. I feel like I pitched pretty well against the rest of the lineup."

Davis hit a three-run homer and a solo shot off Morton.

The A's hit four home runs, including Marcus Semien's third career grand slam, on Friday night when they came from behind for a 9-8 walk-off win over Houston, ending the Astros' seven-game winning streak and 10-game streak at the Coliseum.

The A's also had a two-run shot from Matt Chapman and solo blasts from Matt Joyce and rookie Boog Powell. Powell led off with a home run in the bottom of the ninth, and Jed Lowrie brought Semien home from second with a walk-off single.

"We hadn't lost here in a long time," Hinch said. "We'd played really well recently, a couple chances we lost in big moments. Very winnable game. It just didn't work out."

The Astros had two-run homers from Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick, who had two doubles and four RBIs.

Gossett will try to bounce back from a rough start Sunday at Seattle. He gave up three runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings in a 10-2 loss. Gossett struck out five but also walked five.

"He worked behind hitters," A's catcher Bruce Maxwell said. "That seems to be a little bit of our issue lately with some of our starters."

Gossett is 3-8 with a 5.32 ERA this season and 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against Houston, both this season.

Peacock, a former A's minor-league prospect, will make what could be his final starter of the season. The Astros have had a six-man rotation since trading for Justin Verlander on Aug. 31, and manager A.J. Hinch said he wants to return to a five-man rotation after this series.

"I think we're going to have to decide after the off day 1/8Monday 3/8 in Anaheim," Hinch said before Friday's game. "Verlander starts on Tuesday and we'd like guys to be on a regular rotation after that. So we will have to make a decision on what the plan is ahead. Everybody is pointing towards Peacock because he's had such a good run in the bullpen as well."

Hinch, however, mentioned Morton and Collin McHugh as other possible choices to move from the rotation to the bullpen. And McHugh had to leave his start Friday night after three innings because of damage to his right middle fingernail, which tore away from the skin. His status is unclear.

"He's a good pitcher," Hinch said of Peacock. "He can do a lot of different things. His slider's been a difference maker this year for him. He can get right-handed hitters out or left-handed hitters out. We have good pitchers. All these guys can be weapons in their own right, Morton, McHugh, Peacock. Whatever route we go, these guys can help us."

Peacock is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in five games and three starts against the A's this season. He has 26 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings vs. Oakland. For his career he's 3-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 games, including 12 starts, against the A's.

Mengden, who was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Nashville when rosters expanded, will make his third start of the season for Oakland. He's 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA. He was 2-4 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts with Nashville.

"He's got to be aggressive and he has to throw strikes and he has to get ahead," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Mengden.

Mengden is 0-2 with a 7.63 ERA in three career starts against Houston, all last season.

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