Langeliers, Kemp homer as A’s beat Astros again to avoid 100th loss

HOUSTON (KTRK) — The Oakland Athletics have a simple goal as the season comes to a close.

“Our mentality is just to go out there and win and ruin as many seasons as we can,” said Oakland outfielder Tony Kemp. “Because we’re not going to be playing in October.”

Shea Langeliers and Kemp both homered as the Athletics took an early lead against Justin Verlander in a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

To avoid its 100th loss this season, Oakland has won the first two games of this series. With the loss and a win by Texas over Toronto on Tuesday night, Houston’s lead in the AL West was cut to one game.

“You don’t have any choice but to keep fighting,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s what this game is all about, and this team is all about.”

The Astros’ home woes continued as they fell to 37-37 this season at Minute Maid Park after losing 12 of their previous 16 games there.

Baker insisted that he is unconcerned about his team’s inconsistency as the postseason approaches.

“I don’t like it,” he stated flatly. “But don’t worry, I’m not worried.”

Langeliers’ two-run homer in the first inning made it 3-0, and Kemp’s shot in the fifth made it 5-1.

“We talked about trying to make a statement that we’ve obviously gotten a lot more competitive since the beginning of the year,” said manager Mark Kotsay. “And we knew we had 18 divisional games ahead of us.” And this was part of our stretch goal of competing and winning baseball games in our division. You can also use this as a litmus test to see where we stand for next year.”

Verlander (11-8) allowed eight hits and five runs over seven innings in his eighth start since being acquired from the New York Mets.

Verlander was asked if he thought the first two games of this series were shocking.

“It’s just baseball,” he explained. “There are two games. You don’t want to be concerned about two games. Obviously, you want to win those games against a team that hasn’t been as good as us this season. However, nothing is guaranteed.”

J.P. Sears (5-11) of Oakland earned his third straight victory after allowing five hits and two runs in six innings.

The Astros struggled to string together hits the night after being shut out 4-0. Houston, which scored 39 runs in a three-game sweep of Texas last week, went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position against the A’s on Tuesday.

Zack Gelof got things started with a double with one out in the first, and the Athletics made it 1-0 when he scored on Ryan Noda’s single. Langeliers drove a curveball from Verlander onto the train tracks atop left field with two outs in the inning to make it 3-0.

Verlander, 40, slumped his shoulders as soon as Langeliers made contact, knowing the ball was gone before it even left the yard. It’s the three-time Cy Young Award winner’s second tough start at home after allowing six hits, including a season-high four homers, in a loss to the Yankees on Sept. 1.

For the Astros, Jose Altuve led off with a single before slugger Yordan Alvarez singled on a rare bunt with one out. Alex Bregman walked to load the bases before Altuve scored on a Kyle Tucker groundout to cut the lead to 3-1.

Gelof’s second double started the third, and he scored on Seth Brown’s one-out double to make it 4-1.

Kemp homered to right-center to start the fifth inning, extending the lead to 5-1.

To begin Houston’s fifth inning, Mauricio Dubón and Martn Maldonado hit consecutive singles. When Jose Altuve popped out and Maldonado was out at first, the Athletics got a double play. Jeremy Pea doubled in Dubón to cut the lead to three, but Alvarez struck out to end the inning.

To begin the eighth, Noda was hit by a pitch and scored on Brown’s double, extending the lead to 6-2.


When the series concludes Wednesday night, Houston RHP Hunter Brown (10-11, 4.78 ERA) will face RHP Paul Blackburn (4-4, 3.88).

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