There were other contributors for sure, such as Sean Doolittle turning in a 4-out save, but Dan Straily came up huge today while Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie each had one key moment on each side of the ball.
Straily was fully in command for all 7 IP today, allowing just 2 hits and 1 BB, while striking out 7. He got some help from Cespedes in LF in the top of the 3rd, one of the few innings when the Astros put up much of a fuss against Straily. Brandon Barnes walked with two outs and then Jonathan Villar singled to left-center sending Barnes around to 3B. However, Villar made an ill-advised attempt to stretch his single into a double and Cespedes' throw on the fly beat Villar to the bag by a country mile. (That's 960 Altuves.)
When Cespedes led off the bottom of the 4th with a long HR off of LHP Brett Oberholtzer, the A's had a 1-0 lead and the only run they would get off of Oberholtzer in his 6 IP of work. However, Oakland did double its lead to 2-0 in the 7th when Jed Lowrie muscled a HR to straightaway CF off of reliever Josh Zeid.
But Lowrie's most important contribution may have come in the 8th inning as the Astros tried to come back off of Dan Otero. With one out, a Brett Wallace double and pinch hitter Mark Krauss' infield single off of Josh Donaldson's glove, put runners at 1B and 3B with one out.
That's when Brandon Barnes hit a squibber to the right side of the mound. Had Otero come home he had Wallace dead to rights, but instead he twisted and threw awkwardly to 2B. For as many strikes as he throws to home plate, Otero did not fire a strike to Lowrie. Lowrie immediately gave up on any DP (which they weren't going to get anyway), lunged towards 3B to take in the throw, and made sure to find the bag at 2B for a force play that made it 2-1 but kept the tying run at 1B with 2 outs.
Now one thing you need to know about the Houston Astros is that they will never rest until they have made as many outs on the bases as they possibly can. Barnes broke for 2B against Doolittle on a pickoff throw to 1B, but made it thanks to an offline one-hop throw by Daric Barton. So then Barnes -- with 2 outs, mind you, and Villar at the plate -- broke for 3B as Doolittle kicked towards 2B. Doolittle calmly stepped off the rubber, fired to 3B, Donaldson slapped the tag on one of Barnes' 83 tattoos, and the inning ended.
With the win, at 82-60 the A's are a season high 22 games over .500 and sit 1 game up on Texas pending the outcome of tonight's showdown between Garret Richards and Derek Holland. The A's go for the series win tomorrow behind Bartolo Colon, on AN Day -- I look forward to seeing many of you there!