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Loperfido hits first MLB homer, Javier solid as Astros beat Athletics to complete sweep

Joey Loperfido Houston Astros Joey Loperfido - The Canadian Press

HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie Joey Loperfido hit his first major league home run and Cristian Javier pitched six scoreless innings Thursday night to help the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 8-1 and complete a four-game sweep.

The victory extended Houston’s winning streak to a season-high five games. The Astros have won seven of their last eight.

“The biggest thing is just everybody is executing better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “We’re playing better as a team now.”

Yainer Diaz hit a three-run double and Loperfido added his two-run shot off Joey Estes (1-1) in a six-run third inning that gave the Astros a big lead early.

“Those are the big hits that we need to open the game up,” manager Joe Espada said. “That’s the kind of offense that we know that we’re capable of.”

Javier (3-1) bounced back from a terrible performance in his prior outing to allow just two hits with eight strikeouts. The right-hander gave up seven runs in just 1 1/3 innings in his last start after returning from an 18-game absence with neck discomfort.

“The biggest adjustment for me is just trying to stay as focused as possible and attack the strike zone as quickly as I can and try to throw my pitches inside the strike zone,” Javier said in Spanish through a translator.

Severe thunderstorms roared through downtown Houston Thursday night, causing rain to get through a section of the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park and pour into the bullpen in right-center field as Javier warmed up.

“It didn’t really affect me, but yeah there was a lot of water in there, which is something I hadn’t seen before,” he said. “So I was a little bit confused there.”

Abraham Toro doubled and Zack Gelof hit an RBI single in the seventh for Oakland, which lost its season-high fifth straight.

Estes yielded eight hits, eight runs and four walks — all career highs — in his second start this season and fourth of his career.

“If you don't locate you can't get good hitters out and that was an example tonight,” manager Mark Kotsay said.

His struggles continued a horrid stretch for the A’s where they’ve given up 86 runs combined in their last 12 games.

There were two outs in third inning when Jon Singleton walked to load the bases. Diaz then lined a double into center field to clear the bases and make it 3-0.

Jake Meyers followed with a double to left field to score Diaz and make it 4-0. Loperfido’s shot to the seats in right field came next to extend it to 6-0.

Kyle Tucker walked to start the fourth before Alex Bregman hit a two-out double. Tucker scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Peña to chase Estes. He was replaced by Hogan Harris and his balk allowed Singleton to score to leave Houston up 8-0.


LHP Ken Waldichuk had reconstructive surgery on his troublesome pitching elbow and will be sidelined all season.


Athletics: Oakland hadn’t announced its starter for the first of three games at Kansas City Friday night.

Astros: RHP Hunter Brown (0-4, 7.79) starts for Houston against RHP Freddy Peralta (3-1, 3.63) in the opener of a three-game series with Milwaukee.