HOUSTON — After making a habit of late comebacks this season, the Oakland Athletics enjoyed building an early lead and holding onto it.
Chad Pinder hit a three-run homer and Khris Davis added three RBIs as the A’s jumped on Lance McCullers Jr. early and cruised to an 8-3 victory against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
The A’s lead the majors with 67 runs in the eighth inning or later and entering the game they’d scored the winning run in the eighth or later in nine of their last 21 wins.
“Not always coming back from behind and just winning a ballgame when we were ahead. We can do that, too,” Davis said with a smile.
Davis, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games, put the A’s up 2-0 with a double in a three-run first. Pinder made it 6-0 when he connected off McCullers (10-4) for his ninth homer in the fourth.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said this was a much-needed win after his team rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie it in the ninth on Tuesday night before losing 6-5 on a bizarre play in the 11th inning.
“It shows you the grit these guys have,” he said. “That’s a demoralizing loss to be able to come back as far as we did last night and get beat in the fashion that we did. ... To be able to jump on their starting pitching right away showed me a lot from these guys to just move past what happened (Tuesday).”
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt (2-3) yielded five hits and three runs in five innings for his second consecutive win after losing his first three decisions.
Yuli Gurriel drove in two runs for Houston, and Tyler White hit a solo homer that cut the deficit to 6-3 in the fifth.
McCullers allowed four hits and six runs while walking five in four-plus innings for his first loss since May 26. It came after a stellar outing last time out, when he whiffed a career-high 12 while permitting just three hits and a run in seven innings of an 11-4 win against the White Sox.
“You could just tell he was battling himself,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He just didn’t have it. ... So, little bit of mechanics, a little bit of approach but more of it just he just couldn’t throw the ball where he wanted to.”
Things went wrong for McCullers quickly when he walked two batters with one out in the first.
The A’s took a 2-0 lead when both runners scored on the double by Davis. A single by Stephen Piscotty sent Davis to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman.
McCullers plunked Chapman to start the fourth before walking Mark Canha. Oakland pushed the lead to 6-0 on the homer by Pinder to left field.
Bassitt retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, and the Astros didn’t get a hit until Alex Bregman’s single with nobody out in the fourth.
Jose Altuve singled before Gurriel’s two-run single cut the margin to 6-2.
Emilio Pagan worked two scoreless innings after Bassitt’s exit.