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Cotton shines in win over Astros

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Jharel Cotton, seen here in May, turned in his best start since April as the Oakland Athletics salvaged the series finale on Sunday from a Houston Astros. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

Jharel Cotton turned in his best start since April as the Oakland Athletics salvaged the series finale on Sunday from a Houston Astros team that had given them fits all season.

Cotton pitched 6 2/3 innings, holding the Astros to two runs in his longest outing since April 10 as the A’s held on late for a 3-2 win. Blake Treinen pitched the final two innings to record the save for Oakland’s third win in 15 meetings with the Astros.

Sunday was a total role reversal from the typical A’s-Astros script as Oakland received the excellent starting pitching and profited from shaky Houston defense.

Although the Cardinals and Pirates were playing the Little League Classic on Sunday night in Williamsport, PA, it was the A’s who scored via a Little League homer. Boog Powell led off the game with a single and Marcus Semien’s grounder to short was botched by Alex Bregman, who threw the ball into the outfield. As Powell came around to score, first baseman Marwin Gonzalez cut off the throw and tried to nab Semien at third, but he too threw the ball away and Semien came all the way around to score.

Houston got a run back in the bottom of the third on Bregman’s sac fly after a Jake Marisnick leadoff double.

Oakland stretched the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on a passed ball by Houston catcher Juan Centeno. The Astros had two men on with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Josh Reddick popped out and Bregman was doubled off second on a botched hit-and-run.

The A’s failed to add on after loading the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, Houston cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom half on a Gonzalez solo homer.

Cotton was lifted for Chris Hatcher after a two-out Centeno single, and Marisnick singled to put men on the corners before Hatcher struck out George Springer to end the threat.

Hatcher allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth, and closer Blake Treinen was called on with the heart of the Houston order looming. He finished off the Astros in the eighth by striking out Gonzalez, and after a Carlos Beltran pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth, Treinen struck out Marisnick to end
the game.

Brad Peacock was charged with the loss. He allowed three runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings.

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