OAKLAND — Danny Valencia could get used to being a cleanup hitter.
In his second straight game at the No. 4 spot in the order for the Athletics, Valencia delivered an early two-run double to support right-hander Jesse Chavez’s strong start in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.
Valencia ripped a two-run double to the gap in right field in the bottom of the first. It came just a day after he belted a home run to back Sonny Gray’s gem in a 3-1 win over the Astros. Valencia finished 2 for 4 on Saturday and is 5 for 12 with three RBI in three games since the A’s acquired him off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.
“It feels good,” Valencia said. “It feels better when you come through to help the team win, it makes all that much (more) gratifying. It was nice to be out there today, it was nice that we won this game. Jesse did a great job. A team effort today for sure.”
Chavez (6-11) struggled with his pitch count early but went seven innings. He allowed an earned run, six hits and four walks while striking out four to record his first victory since July 19. Chavez completed at least seven innings for the first time since June 17, a span of nine outings. He rebounded nicely from a bad start on Monday when he gave up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s a good confidence-builder after what happened last time,” Chavez said. “Something that I’ll just go back to work on and build off of, find the things that put me in trouble a little bit early on that I can eliminate next time.”
Houston right-hander Collin McHugh (13-6) fell short in his bid to become the American League’s first 14-game winner. He used a career-high 121 pitches to get through six innings, allowing two earned runs and five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He issued consecutive walks to start the game, and both runners came around to score on Valencia’s double.
“I put us behind the 8-ball from the beginning,” McHugh said. “It took a little while to find a feel for my pitches. I really didn’t have a very good curveball all day. I went the whole day without having very good command or very good stuff.”
Outfielder Preston Tucker hit a solo shot off Chavez in the fourth inning.
Astros shortstop Jose Altuve went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak at O.Co Coliseum to 19 games, the longest active streak for any player.
The A’s (50-62) are last in the AL West but defeated the division-leading Astros (61-51) for the second straight game.
A’s outfielder Coco Crisp (illness) was replaced in left field by Sam Fuld in the top of the third inning. Crisp is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday. Pitcher Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) said he felt “rusty” during Friday’s scoreless one-inning rehab stint with Class-A Stockton and that he plans to pitch again Sunday.Danny ValenciaHouston AstrosJesse ChavezMLBOakland Athletics