HOUSTON (AP) — After struggling on defense, Oakland’s Ramon Laureano was determined to atone for his mistakes when he came up to the plate with the game tied in the 11th inning against the Houston Astros.
“I just keep moving forward … I just think about that I’m going to get in the most important situation in the game,” he said. “That’s how I always think and just move forward and help the team win in any way that I can.”
Laureano was able to do that on Tuesday when Matt Olson hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning before he added a ground-rule RBI double with one out in the 11th to give the A’s a 4-3 victory.
It was tied at 3-3 when Olson singled off Collin McHugh (3-5) with one out in the 11th, before Mark Canha walked. Laureano then hit a ball to left field that rolled to the wall and lodged between the padding and the ground. Both runners scored by the time Josh Reddick got the ball and threw it in.
But the play was reviewed and Canha was returned to third base because the ball was lodged under the wall.
“He’s a fighter, he’s never going to get down on himself,” manager Bob Melvin said of Laureano. “He’s never going to fail because he’s scared of anything.”
Laureano’s late-game heroics came after he misplayed a ball that helped Yuli Gurriel collect his first career inside-the-park home run that gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the second inning. He also had a throwing error in the eighth.
The Astros had a runner on third with one out in the second when Gurriel knocked a line drive to center field that bounced just to the right of a diving Laureano. The ball skipped past him and rolled to the wall in straightaway center. The strong-armed Laureano hopped up and sprinted to grab the ball and threw it to home, but catcher Josh Phegley had to stand up to snag the slightly offline throw and Gurriel slid in behind him.
Laureano said he’s been having a tough time on balls he has to dive forward for and is searching for a way to fix the problem.
“Right now I’m not very confident diving forward. I don’t know what it is … but I’ve got to find a way to make those plays because it’s embarrassing right now,” he said.
Gurriel was at a full sprint by the time he rounded second and smiled broadly as he raced home from third. A couple of minutes after the homer, Gurriel was sitting alone in the dugout trying to catch his breath when Robinson Chirinos approached him and draped a wet towel across his neck.
Oakland starter Mike Fiers allowed six hits and two runs in 7 2/3 innings but did not factor into the decision. He hasn’t lost since May 1, which was the start before his no-hitter on May 7 against the Reds. Yusmeiro Petit (3-2) struck out two in two perfect innings for the win.
The Athletics couldn’t get anything going against Houston starter Wade Miley and had managed just three singles through eight innings. But the left-hander walked Marcus Semien to start the ninth before he was chased on a single by Matt Chapman. Closer Roberto Osuna took over and was greeted by Olson’s shot to the first row of the second deck in right field to put the A’s up by 1.
The Astros tied it on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the ninth and neither team scored in the 10th before Laureano’s tiebreaking hit in the 11th.
“Sometimes baseball will make you sick to your stomach, literally,” manager AJ Hinch said. “So, tonight’s a night like that.”
Miley struck out six and walked two in a season-high eight-plus innings.
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