HOUSTON — Alex Bregman homered twice and his tapper just in front of the plate in the 11th inning led to a bizarre play that ended the game, as catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s throwing error handed the Houston Astros a 6-5 victory against the Athletics.
Justin Verlander pitched six sharp innings and the Astros took a 4-0 lead into the ninth before Oakland tied it.
Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer with two outs in the top of the 11th off Collin McHugh (5-0) to put the A’s ahead, but the Astros staged their own rally.
All-Star closer Blake Treinen (5-2) walked pinch-hitter Josh Reddick, who went to third on a single to right field by rookie Kyle Tucker. With the infield playing in, Tony Kemp hit a grounder to shortstop Marcus Semien. He made a low throw home that Lucroy was unable to handle, allowing Reddick to slide in safely with the tying run.
With one out, Bregman’s dribbler started out foul before spinning into fair territory just a few feet up the first-base line. Bregman failed to run initially, so Lucroy scooped up the ball and reached for Bregman as he backpedaled — the bat still in his hand — in an effort to dodge the tag.
But the ball slipped out of Lucroy’s bare hand, pinballed off plate umpire David Rackley and Lucroy, and then fell to the ground. Still with plenty of time, though, Lucroy picked up the ball, set his feet with an angle to throw to first base — and fired the ball off the back of Bregman’s helmet as he ran up the line.
The ball deflected into foul territory in right field, and Tucker trotted home with the winning run.
Following a replay review, the play stood as called on the field.
Treinen had converted 20 consecutive save chances since April 18.
Houston reliever Ken Giles allowed three consecutive singles with nobody out in the ninth as the A’s pulled to 4-1. He was replaced by Hector Rondon, who was greeted by an RBI single from Matt Olson to make it 4-2.
Rondon struck out Piscotty before a wild pitch left runners at second and third. There were two outs when Semien’s second double of the game tied it at 4.
Bregman hit his first homer off Sean Manaea in the first inning. George Springer added RBI singles in the second and fourth to make it 3-0.
Bregman, chosen for his first All-Star Game on Sunday, connected off Emilio Pagan in the seventh for the first multihomer game of his career.
Verlander yielded three hits and struck out six, lowering his ERA to an AL-best 2.05. Manaea allowed seven hits and three runs in four-plus innings.
The Athletics hadn’t given up a run in 23⅓ innings when Bregman homered in the first.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin was ejected in the fourth after arguing with Rackley about a check swing.
Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (strained right Achilles) is expected to come off the disabled list to start Thursday in the series finale.
Astros: SS Marwin Gonzalez left before the second inning after being kicked in the left wrist and elbow by Dustin Fowler when he tagged him out as he tried to steal second base in the first. The team said Gonzalez had a bruised wrist and elbow and is day-to-day.
LOW RATINGS FOR 49ERS-RAMS
Monday night’s Rams-49ers game logged a 7.1 television rating on ESPN, according to The Sports Business Daily.
It was the network’s lowest draw for the back end of a Monday night doubleheader in Week 1 since a Denver-Raiders game in 2008. It was also a 25 percent dropoff from the Minnesota-San Francisco late Monday night opener last season.
The Rams-49ers, however, set a Monday Night Football video streaming milestone on WatchESPN, with an average of 308,000 views per minute.