HOUSTON — In a roller coaster ninth inning, the A’s lost 10-9 on a walk-off homer Friday night by the Astros’ Luis Valbuena.
Valbuena’s three-run blast came on the first pitch from Oakland closer Ryan Madson. It came after the A’s rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth to erase a 7-4 deficit. Valbuena stepped to the plate right after Carlos Correa reached on a strike-three wild pitch to bring the winning run to the plate.
The A’s erased a three-run deficit with their five-run flurry off Astros All-Star closer Will Harris, who entered the game having converted all nine of his save opportunities this year.
Yonder Alonso hit a two-run homer to pull the A’s within 7-6 and Khris Davis would double home two runs to give the A’s the lead off Michael Feliz, who relieved Harris.
The good vibes would vanish quickly in the bottom half, as the A’s were dealt their most stunning loss of the season.
Oakland’s five-run rally got rookie Daniel Mengden off the hook from taking his fifth loss. The Houston native, who was drafted by the Astros before being traded to Oakland last summer, went just 4 2/3 innings and gave up six runs, the most he’s allowed in six starts since making his big league debut.
He had a sizable contingent of fans cheering him on, but his adventurous night included a line-drive comebacker that drilled him in the chest in the fourth. It marked his first truly shaky in the major leagues, but his teammates appeared to give him something to smile about in the end until Valbuena delivered the heartbreak.
Marcus Semien homered during a three-run A’s rally in the top of the fourth that gave them a 3-0 lead. But the Astros would score twice in the fourth and take the lead with four in the fifth.
Starting pitching report
Mengden looked tough to beat through three innings. That included a third inning in which he put two runners aboard via walk and hit-by-pitch before striking out three in a row to end the threat. The A’s scored three in the top of the fourth to snap a scoreless tie, but the Astros got two back in the bottom half on Correa’s two-run homer. That inning included Carlos Gomez’s liner that deflected off Mengden’s glove and nailed him flush in the chest. He retrieved the ball and flung it underhand to first for the out, but he was in obvious pain, dropping his glove to the ground and kicking it as head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta came to check on him.
Mengden stayed in the game and struck out A.J. Reed to end that inning. Then things unraveled fast in the fifth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases. Marwin Gonzalez lined a single to tie it 3-3, Jose Altuve’s fielder’s choice grounder scored the go-ahead run, and Correa’s line single scored another to make it 5-3. Melvin called on Marc Rzepczynski after that.
Worth noting despite Mengden’s struggles: His 37 strikeouts are the fourth most in A’s history through six career starts. Tim Hudson leads with 40, followed by Jim Nash (39 in 1966) and Blake Stein (38 in 1998).
Rzepczynski gave up Luis Valbuena’s run-scoring single that extended Houston’s lead to 6-3 in the fifth, a run that got charged to Mengden. Andrew Triggs struck out three and gave up a run over two innings.
Madson couldn’t have expected to even get a save opportunity. He retired his first batter in the ninth, then Jose Altuve singled and stole second. Correa reached on the wild pitch, and Valbuena hit a piped 90 mile-per-hour fastball to win it for Houston.
At the plate
The A’s built their short-lived 3-0 lead with a fourth-inning rally off Collin McHugh. Danny Valencia singled, then Stephen Vogt drove a run-scoring triple to Tal’s Hill in deep center. Billy Butler scored him with a single, and after Yonder Alonso’s double-play grounder cleared the bases, Marcus Semien put a charge into his 19th homer, a long drive to left-center. Down 6-3, they would get on the board again in the seventh when Alonso scored on a passed ball.
In the field
The bottom of the fifth was trouble for the A’s, but they did execute a nice play to cut down Jose Altuve at the plate. Correa singled to score a run, but as Altuve went first to third, shortstop Marcus Semien alertly cut off the throw to third and got Correa caught in a rundown between first and second. Altuve was then thrown out at the plate.
The announced crowd was 31,438.
Kendall Graveman (4-6, 4.57) and Lance McCullers (4-2, 3.57) square off in Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game.