OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Chas McCormick hit a tiebreaking home run off Frankie Montas to begin the eighth inning and the Houston Astros got a scoreless effort from their bullpen, beating the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The A’s have lost 12 of 17 to fall 12 games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2017 season at 75-87.
McCormick was in a 2 for 23 funk but snapped out of it with his second three-hit game of the season. He also had an RBI single in the fifth.
“I faced him a couple times last year so I kind of knew what his ball does,” said McCormick, who was 3 for 6 lifetime against Montas before his big night. “I felt pretty comfortable. I just missed a couple pitches before then I kind of made an adjustment. Wanted to be a little shorter to the ball and then he threw me a fastball and I put a good swing on it.”
That was enough on a night when five Houston relievers combined for five scoreless innings of four-hit ball after starter Cristian Javier departed after throwing 85 pitches in four innings.
Phil Maton, Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero (3-0) and Héctor Neris retired three batters each. Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
The Astros entered the night with a 2.48 bullpen ERA, lowest in the majors.
Houston had a deep bullpen after Framber Valdez pitched a two-hitter in the series opener Monday.
“They have to be fresh, that’s the secret,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “A fresh arm is a good arm. Last night, Framber put us in a position to have a fresh bullpen today.”
After McCormick hit a 2-2 pitch from Montas to deep center to put Houston ahead 2-1, the Astros drew four consecutive walks off Zach Jackson to force in another run.
Montas (2-5) struck out five in seven innings but remained winless since April 18. He allowed seven…