Game 3 of the ALDS saw three dramatic lead changes, but the A's kept their season alive with a 9-7 win over the Houston Astros.
Chad Pinder's 360-foot blast in the seventh was the shortest of them all, but was by far the most impactful. The three-run homer erased an Astros' 7-4 lead late and shifted the momentum.
The offensive flow rode again on another Home Run Derby, with both sides upping the count to 18 total long balls at Dodger Stadium in these three games.
The A's took an early lead with four solo blasts. Tommy La Stella got the A's out to an early 1-0 lead in the first.
The Astros claimed the lead the following inning. Jose Altuve hit a solo home run and, with runners on the corners, La Stella's weak throw on a potential double play turn scored Houston's go-ahead run.
Oakland could feast a little on Jose Urquidy, who was hanging his breaking balls. Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien notched solo home runs to extend the A's lead to 4-2.
The incremental lead gathered via solo home run was easily squashed with one big inning. Jesus Luzardo had been rolling. Getting ahead in counts, he held the Astros scoreless through three innings.
It started with a leadoff walk to Yuli Gurriel in the fifth inning. Aledmys Diaz worked back from an 0-2 count and nailed a fastball over the left field fence to tie the game 4-4. With reliever Yusmeiro Petit on the mound, Houston taught the A's a lesson in hitting with runners in scoring position, stringing together four hits from the heart of the order for a 7-4 lead.
The comeback A's, capable of reclaiming unlikely leads late, gave way to the comeback Astros. It was a snapshot for how this series has gone for the A's: Petit allowed four earned runs in 21 2/3 innings during the regular season. Houston put up four against him in one inning this series, including three Wednesday.
The bullpen just couldn't mask the offensive deficiencies much longer. The A's had their opportunities to bust the game open in their favor.
After Semien's home run in the fourth, Oakland loaded the bases with a walk and Chad Pinder's single – the A's first single of the game. Khris Davis, batting cleanup for the first time since July, couldn't get all of a fastball in the zone and flied out. After Olson walked to load the bases, Canha popped out to extinguish a prime opportunity.
Pinder salvaged the mess. After back-to-back singles from Semien and La Stella to lead off the seventh, Pinder launched the opposite field three-run home run that just cleared the right field fence and missed Kyle Tucker's outreached glove. It was the A's first hit with runners in scoring position of the series – he also had the A's key two-run single against the White Sox in Game 3 of the wild card series.
Liam Hendriks had to whip out his "Hercu-Liam" alter ego, tasked with shutting down the Astros in three innings.
After not throwing more than 30 pitches in any outing in the regular season, Hendriks threw 49 in Game 2 of the wild card series and got the save in Game 3. With a lead, he threw 25 through the seventh and eighth inning. He escaped a game-tying threat in the eighth by striking out pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a 98 mph heater – Reddick broke his bat in frustration.
Hendriks finished off the game by retiring Springer, Altuve and Brantley in order in the ninth.
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