McHugh gives Astros breathing room

Published 7:29 pm Thursday, September 10, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Collin McHugh needed plenty of help to get his 16th win after laboring through one of his roughest starts this season.

The Astros provided it with four home runs — enough to tie them with Toronto for the major league lead and extend their slim advantage in the AL West.

Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Carlos Gomez and Marwin Gonzalez all homered as Houston beat the Oakland Athletics 11-5 late Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.

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“Our offense did an incredible job,” McHugh said. “I’ve said it all year, you’re never more than a swing out of it with our team. As a starting pitcher, if you can do the job of keeping it within a swing then you’ve done your job.”

McHugh (16-7) ended up with his worst start in more than a month after cruising through the first four innings, but he got enough support to win his third straight. He allowed five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out five and walked two.

The right-hander tied Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for the second-most wins in the AL. McHugh’s teammate, Dallas Keuchel, leads the league with 17 victories.

“I felt like I had good stuff the first four innings,” McHugh said. “I feel like I could have been out there for a long time, and then you run into speed bumps.”

Jose Altuve added two doubles and Hank Conger drove in four runs for the Astros, who increased their division lead over the Rangers to two games. Texas lost 6-0 at Seattle.

Houston’s 76 wins are its most since 2010 when the club went 76-86.

Rasmus, back in the lineup after sitting out two games with an illness, hit his 19th home run of the season into the second deck in right field on a full-count pitch from starter Aaron Brooks with two outs in the second.

After Conger’s two-run single and an RBI double by Altuve helped extend the lead to 4-0, Gattis hit his 23rd homer as part of a three-run fifth.

Gomez homered off R.J. Alvarez in the sixth.

Gonzalez added his 10th home run in the seventh, giving the Astros 11 players with 10 or more. That ties the major league record set by the 2004 Detroit Tigers.

“We just have a lot of power,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “The long ball is a big part of our offense. If you make a mistake, we can hit it over the fence.”

Houston tied the Blue Jays for the major league lead with 192 home runs.

Billy Butler and Josh Reddick homered for Oakland, which gave manager Bob Melvin a two-year contract extension before the game.

The A’s have hit a home run in 15 consecutive games to match the longest streak in the majors this season.

Brooks (1-3) gave up five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. He remained winless since Aug. 1.

“He couldn’t spot his fastball enough to keep it off the barrel of the bat,” Melvin said.


• Astros: LHP Tony Sipp (back, oblique) threw a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park in Houston and is expected to join the team in Anaheim. Sipp has not pitched since Aug. 26. … Jason Castro (right quadriceps strain) caught Sipp and could come off the disabled list in time for the Angels series beginning Friday.

• Athletics: Chris Bassitt threw 35 pitches from 75 feet and Melvin said he is optimistic the right-hander will return this season. Bassitt hasn’t pitched since Aug. 26 because of shoulder soreness.


• Astros: Keuchel (17-6) faces the Angels today when he attempts to become the first Houston pitcher to win 18 games since Roy Oswalt went 20-12 in 2005.

• Athletics: RHP Jesse Chavez (7-14) pitches today in Texas. He has the most losses by an Oakland pitcher since 2010.