HOUSTON (AP) — Aledmys Díaz hit a two-run homer, Lance McCullers Jr. had a solid start and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
At 94-50, American League-leading Houston’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is one. The Astros are 13-3 in their last 16 games.
Díaz broke a 2-2 tie in seventh inning, roping an 84-mph slider from Joel Payamps (3-6) into the left-field Crawford Boxes. Díaz has 11 homers this season.
Houston picked up another run in the seventh when Kyle Tucker singled to score Yordan Alvarez.
McCullers had 11 strikeouts — his most since July 29, 2018 — and held Oakland to two hits and two runs while walking four.
McCullers has allowed just four runs in 24 innings across six starts at Minute Maid Park this season. He missed the first four months because of a forearm injury,
Seth Martinez (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh, and Rafael Montero worked the ninth for his 13th save.
Oakland briefly held a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth after Dermis Garcia singled to score Ramón Laureano and Sean Murphy. But in the bottom of the fourth, Trey Mancini and Christian Vázquez hit back-to-back doubles to deep left-center to tie it at 2.
Alvarez doubled to deep center field off Oakland starter James Kaprielian in the third inning to score Chas McCormick and give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Kaprielian pitched six innings, allowing two runs and five hits while walking four and striking out four.
Astros: Justin Verlander will start Friday night for Houston, less than three weeks after suffering an injury to his calf on Aug. 28. Verlander threw bullpen sessions last week in Houston and then Tuesday in Detroit and is set to return to the rotation against Oakland.
Athletics: Adrian Martinez (4-4, 5.59) starts Friday, looking to rebound from a rough last start Saturday against the White Sox where he allowed 14 hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Astros: Justin Verlander (16-3, 1.84) returns to action after a brief stint on the injury list with a fascial disruption to his right calf. Verlander has allowed just three runs in 13 innings across two starts against Oakland this season.
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