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Young lifts A's to win over Astros with 9th inning shot

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The Canadian Press
5/24/2013 11:54:28 PM
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HOUSTON -- Chris Young has had a tough start to the season, with a sub-.200 batting average and was 0 for 5 entering Friday's game.

Turns out that his slump was nothing a trip home and belly full of mom's barbecue couldn't cure.

Young connected on a three-run homer in the ninth inning to lift the Oakland Athletics to a 6-5 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

"Mom's cooking definitely has something to do with it for sure," said Young, who grew up in Houston and spent an off day Thursday with his family. "Barbecue, just good old Texas southern barbeque. It always does the trick for me."

Young is hitting just .189 this season. But he's a career .418 hitter at Minute Maid Park with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 19 games in his hometown.

Manager Bob Melvin, who also saw Young thrive in Houston when he played for him in Arizona, wasn't surprised by his performance on Friday.

"He's got quite a track record here in this ballpark," Melvin said. "It seems like every time he comes here whether he's not swinging all that well or he is he ends up doing some big things here."

The A's trailed 5-3 before closer Jose Veras (0-3) walked two of the first three batters of the inning to set the table for Young. He turned on a curveball to put Oakland up 6-5.

"I didn't make the pitch that I was supposed to make, and then I paid for it," Veras said. "You fall behind, fall behind, and then you've got to pay one day."

Young stood at the plate for a couple of seconds admiring the towering shot before heading to first base. He raised both arms and pointed to the section where about 50 friends and relatives were sitting before heading into the dugout after reaching home plate.

"It's nice to have the whole family in the stands," he said. "It's one of the places where you feel a lot of love, a lot of support. Houston's always treated me well, I like coming home so it's partly that and partly the yard plays pretty good for my swing."

Seth Smith had a solo pinch-hit homer for Oakland in the sixth inning.

Pat Neshek (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Grant Balfour walked two in the ninth before getting his 10th save. He has converted 28 straight save opportunities since last season.

J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer and Matt Dominguez also homered in a five-run fifth inning for the Astros, who fell to 0-7 against Oakland this season.

The Athletics were up by two before Dominguez got Houston's big fifth inning going with his first-pitch home run off Tommy Milone. Jose Altuve tied it with an RBI single before Martinez homered for the second straight game to give the Astros a 5-2 lead.

Houston starter Erik Bedard yielded four hits and two runs in five innings. He gave up both runs in the first inning before settling down.

Milone became the fourth straight Oakland starter to last seven innings. He gave up eight hits and five runs with six strikeouts.

By scoring five runs, the Astros ended a streak of Oakland allowing three or fewer runs in six straight games.

Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk before Young extended his hitting streak against the Astros to 15 games with a single. An RBI single by Yoenis Cespedes put Oakland up 1-0.

Bedard then plunked Josh Donaldson before retiring Derek Norris for the first out. Luke Montz then grounded into a force out and Young scored to make it 2-0.

Houston couldn't do much against Milone early and he retired 14 of the first 16 batters he faced. He struck out the first two batters of the fifth inning before Dominguez launched his fifth homer of the season to the back of the Crawford Boxes to cut the lead to 2-1.

It was the first of five consecutive hits for the Astros. Ronny Cedeno and Robbie Grossman hit back-to-back singles before Jose Altuve snapped an 0 for 18 slump with an RBI single to tie it at 2-all. Second baseman Eric Sogard almost ended the inning on Cedeno's hit, but the ball dropped just out of his reach after he sprinted and slid to try and snag it in shallow centre field.

Martinez gave the Astros a 5-2 lead with his three-run shot. It was Martinez's second consecutive game with a home run after he hit a two-run shot in Houston's win over the Royals on Wednesday.

Milone finally escaped the inning when Carlos Corporan grounded out.

"Really I never even thought about getting anybody up at that point he had been pitching so well and it happened so quickly," Melvin said of the fifth inning. "But it's a little unlike him because he usually can stem the tide and keep from having the big inning like that. It just wasn't the case tonight."

Paul Clemens replaced Bedard for the sixth inning and Smith greeted him with a pinch-hit homer to get Oakland within 5-3. It was the sixth pinch-hit homer of Smith's career and the second by Oakland this season.

Young had a single in the seventh inning and that and his homer were Oakland's only hits after Smith's homer.

Young also had a three-run homer in his last appearance at Minute Maid Park to help the A's to a 9-3 win on April 7.

NOTES: Los Angeles Clippers centre DeAndre Jordan, who is from Houston, threw out the first pitch. ... The series continues on Saturday when Oakland's A.J. Griffin faces Lucas Harrell. ... Oakland SS Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup for a second straight game after being hit by a pitch on his right foot on Tuesday night. Melvin said he was feeling better Friday and that the injury wasn't something that would put him on the disabled list. ... Houston OF Justin Maxwell, on the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand, took about 20 swings in batting practice on Friday and is schedule to go to extended spring training in Florida on Wednesday to take live at-bats. ... Houston minor league OF Jonathan Singleton will finish his 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse and report to Class A Quad Cities on Monday.

Chris Young  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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