0

A’s 4, Astros 3

Josh Reddick’s season-long slump officially ended Saturday when he backed up a three-hit game with another three-hit performance, including a game-winning single with one out in the ninth inning in a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros.

In collecting three of the A’s 14 hits, Reddick upped his average to .200, or more than double where he sat at the start of the three-game series against the Astros.

Sure, right fielder Reddick has put in plenty of hard work in trying to bust out of a 4 for 41 funk to start the season. But, the answer to regaining his stroke might have been as simple as stumbling across a box of his bats stashed above teammate Alberto Callaspo’s locker.

Reddick used one of those bats Friday and banged out three hits in four at-bats. So, naturally, he snagged another one of his bats from that once-hidden box Saturday and hammered three more Saturday.

“We were blaming it on that,” Reddick said of his slump before finding the stash.

Reddick started Saturday’s game 0 for 2. He finished with three straight singles, with the third one scoring Yoenis Cespedes with the decisive run.

Cespedes’ run was the only time the A’s held an advantage on the scoreboard. As he touched home, it set off a wild celebration in the middle of the infield, with Reddick somewhere in the middle.

“We often talk about guys who are in deep slumps, sometimes it only takes one game where you get a couple of hits or a couple of balls up, you start to feel a lot better about yourself,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Reddick.

It wasn’t just Reddick who made a winner out of Dan Otero and prevented starter Scott Kazmir from being saddled with his first loss of the season.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie ignited the three-run rally in the ninth with a leadoff home run. Callaspo tied the game with a run-scoring single that also enabled Cespedes to get to third.

Perhaps most impressive, Reddick’s hits Saturday were to the left side, the right side and up the middle, respectively. He now is dictating at-bats.

“It’s showing me it’s where I want to be in the box with every pitch,” Reddick said. “ … Being able to not be so pull-happy or go-the-other-way-happy shows me that I’m where I need to be and I have enough confidence in myself to do everything.”

Kazmir’s confidence hasn’t wavered from the time he signed with the A’s. He turned in his fourth straight impressive outing and kept the A’s within striking distance through eight innings of six-hit, no-walk ball.

Melvin said, “He pitched great again. He threw over 100 pitches today, basically in the same fashion we’ve seen him every time. He certainly didn’t deserve to get a loss.”

The Astros scratched out runs in the third, fourth and fifth. Meanwhile, the A’s weren’t having much success against Brett Oberholtzer and two relievers.

Yet, Kazmir said, he felt as if it was just a matter of time, as long as he kept the game close.

“Just go as deep as I can,” Kazmir said, “and as long we got it close, I feel like we got a good chance.”

 

– Center fielder Coco Crisp made it through Friday night’s game without any flare-up with his sore wrist. Yet, Melvin isn’t taking any chances with his leadoff hitter, so he gave Crisp another day off Saturday.

Melvin is worried most about Crisp’s wrist holding up well when batting right-handed – Crisp’s four at-bats Friday came from the left side.

“We’ll get into it slowly,” Melvin said. “He felt a lot better swinging right-handed (Friday) in the cage.”

Crisp entered Saturday’s game in the sixth as a pinch-hitter for Craig Gentry because the Astros went to a left-handed pitcher. He got two at-bats.

 

– A’s reliever Eric O’Flaherty threw a bullpen session at the Coliseum for the first time Saturday as he continues his rehab from an elbow injury that required surgery.

O’Flaherty isn’t expected back from Tommy John surgery, anytime soon. He isn’t eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list until May 29.

However, it’s possible that he will face batters when the A’s return from their next road trip, Melvin said.

Melvin watched O’Flaherty’s bullpen session. He said O’Flaherty threw some sliders and looked good.

“What he’s got to offer is pretty exciting,” Melvin said.

 

– Kazmir made it 15 times in 17 games that A’s starting pitchers allowed three runs or fewer this season. Four of those games were Kazmir outings.

 

Steve Corkran