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Astros dump Athletics for fifth consecutive victory

Sep 15, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros catcher Christian Vazquez (21) hits an RBI double during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Aledmys Diaz smacked a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning and Lance McCullers Jr. recorded his highest regular-season strikeout total in more than four years as the host Houston Astros downed the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Thursday.

The Astros (94-50) extended their winning streak to five games, and they have won 13 of their past 16 games overall. The victory over Oakland (52-92) in the opener of a four-game set clinched the season series for Houston, which has secured season-series victories over each of its American League West rivals.

Diaz snapped a 3-3 tie with a line drive homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field, knocking in Jeremy Pena with his 11th home run of the season. Pena reached with one out via an infield single before Diaz drilled a 1-1 slider to chase Athletics reliever Joel Payamps (3-6).

Oakland didn’t find much relief when Sam Moll replaced Payamps, as Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker all reached in succession off the right-hander. Tucker laced a single to center that plated Alvarez and capped the three-run uprising.

McCullers did not factor into the decision but was excellent nonetheless while fanning 11. He allowed two hits and issued four walks over six strong innings, surrendering a two-run single to Dermis Garcia with one out in the fourth that gave Oakland a short-lived 2-1 lead.

McCullers rebounded to strand Stephen Vogt and Garcia in scoring position with a strikeout of Nick Allen to cap the fourth. He then fanned three consecutive batters bridging the fifth and sixth, this after he fanned six Athletics over a seven-batter span between the first and third.

McCullers posted his top strikeout total in the regular season since he fanned 11 on July 29, 2018. He also had an 11-strikeout game in the 2020 postseason.

The Astros scratched across a pair of runs off Oakland starter James Kaprielian in his six-inning outing. Alvarez delivered an RBI double in the third that drove home Chas McCormick, who had walked. In the fourth, Trey Mancini and Christian Vazquez stroked consecutive two-out doubles to tie the game at 2-2.

Seth Martinez (1-1) threw one scoreless inning for his first career victory. Rafael Montero notched his 13th save with a perfect ninth.

–Field Level Media