HOUSTON — Kendall Graveman gave the Oakland Athletics another solid outing Tuesday night.
If only his hitters could solve Houston’s pitching.
Collin McHugh threw six scoreless innings, Colby Rasmus and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros beat the Athletics 3-1.
Graveman (10-9) allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings but took the loss a night after Oakland fell 6-0 to Houston.
“He was great,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Up until the second home run, they hit three balls hard the whole game off of him. We just didn’t do enough offensively to give him support. We’ll take that stuff every night.”
Graveman had allowed one run in his previous two starts.
“I thought I could’ve been a little bit better,” Graveman said. “I could’ve saved a run or two. Those are the games where you save two runs and make two better pitches and you’re 1-1. They did a good job of neutralizing our offense, and you get that feeling that you need to keep it where it’s at. I still feel there’s work to be done where I need to bear down and make one pitch to get out of it.”
Melvin said Graveman was taking ownership of being the number one guy and going deep in games.
“Every game, he goes out there and he’s close to completing a game,” Melvin said. “He really has taken it to another level and been consistent with it.”
Rasmus put Houston up 1-0 with a homer in the second inning in his first at-bat since returning from the 15-day disabled list. Rasmus went on the DL on Aug. 5 with a cyst in his right ear.
“It’s about as good a feeling as you can have being a baseball player,” Rasmus said. “I was just glad to be able to get out there and contribute and do some good for the team in a time where we needed a little spark.”
Gattis hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it 3-0.
McHugh (9-10) allowed four hits and struck out five. He had allowed at least three runs in each of his previous six starts.
Houston remained two games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card.
Alex Bregman had an RBI single in the third for Houston.
Will Harris threw a perfect seventh, and Luke Gregerson allowed an unearned run in the eighth before Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Marcus Semien cut the lead to 3-1 with an RBI groundout to short in the eighth. The A’s were shutout in the first game of the three-game series, 6-0, Monday night.
Oakland put runners on the corners with one out in the second, but Rasmus caught Max Muncy’s flyout and threw home in time to get Ryon Healy and end the inning.
A’S DEAL CRISP
Oakland is nearing a deal to trade outfielder Coco Crisp to the Cleveland Indians, according to a person familiar with the trade. The exchange has been agreed to by both teams, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade has to be approved by Major League Baseball.
The trade would have to be official by Wednesday for Crisp to be eligible for the postseason.
The 36-year-old Crisp is batting .234 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 102 games this season.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (left rhomboid strain) will likely miss his next start, manager Bob Melvin said.
Athletics: LHP Ross Detwiler (1-3, 5.74) takes the mound Wednesday in the finale of the three-game series. Detwiler has allowed 14 runs in his last three starts, covering 14 innings.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (9-6, 4.40) makes his 25th start of the season Wednesday. Fiers pitched into the seventh in his last outing Friday against Tampa Bay, allowing three runs.