HOUSTON (AP) — Astros manager A.J. Hinch couldn’t find just one word to describe the month that Gerrit Cole just put together.
Cole worked into the seventh inning and struck out 12, George Springer and Jose Altuve each drove in two runs and the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Sunday.
With his performance Cole submitted a record-setting April, breaking Mike Scott’s 31-year-old franchise mark for strikeouts in the month. Cole struck out 61 batters.
“Whatever word you want to say probably fits,” Hinch said. “Whether it’s elite or dominant or exceptional or spectacular. It sounds historic with the strikeouts he had in our uniform.”
After Cole allowed the tying run on his 99th and final pitch, the Astros took advantage of two errors in the bottom of the seventh – among Oakland’s four on the afternoon – to pull away.
“Defensively, we gave it up,” Oakland’s Jonathan Lucroy said. “We gave them too many bases, too many free bags. You give guys free bags whether from an error or walking people or something like that, you’re going to get hurt, especially against a team like that.”
Cole gave up three runs on six hits and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander’s dozen strikeouts were his second-most this season, and he has struck out 10 or more batters in four of his six starts. He had six double-digit strikeout performances in his five previous seasons, all with Pittsburgh. Cole broke Scott’s mark of 49 set in 1987.
“I made a few subtle tweaks coming over here, it’s playing out,” Cole said about his start in Houston. “I think the catchers and the analytics guys deserve a lot of credit for the scouting reports and the preparation. I just try to go out and execute the gameplan.”
Will Harris (1-1) recorded the final out in the seventh.
In the bottom half, Alex Bregman walked, stole second and reached third on a throwing error by Lucroy. Brian McCann followed with a popup to shallow right field that bounced off shortstop Marcus Semien’s glove, allowing Bregman to score the go-ahead run.
“It was an over-the-shoulder catch,” Semien said. “I have made that catch before. It just didn’t happen for me right there.”
Jake Marisnick added an RBI double and Altuve had a run-scoring single, making it 6-3.
Marwin Gonzalez had a RBI single and McCann had a sacrifice fly in the eighth to expand the lead.
Trevor Cahill (1-1) allowed four runs on four hits, struck out five and walked one in six innings.
Springer hit a solo homer to left-center in the fifth. This was the first time Springer has homered in back-to-back regular season games since last June 27 and 28 against Oakland.
Jed Lowrie’s RBI single in the sixth broke his own franchise record for hits in April with 35, and the RBI tied him with Jason Giambi and Reggie Jackson for most RBIs by an Oakland player in April with 27.
Lucroy had three hits, including an RBI double in the third and a RBI single in the seventh.
Chad Pinder hit his third homer of the season with two outs in the ninth.
CORREA’S STREAK SNAPPED
Carlos Correa saw his 12-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday going 0-for-4. It was his third career streak of at least 12 games. Correa hit .419 with three doubles an two home runs during the streak.
Before Springer’s home run, Max Stassi hit a deep fly ball to right field. Stephen Piscotty ranged back to the wall to try to make the catch. A fan in the first row reached over the wall and grabbed it, touching Piscotty’s glove. Stassi was called out because of fan interference, and the call was upheld after video review.
“The explanation to me is they confirmed that he would have made the catch,” Hinch said. “I’m not sure how you do that but I understand where the boundary is, how it was right on the line. It looked like the fan was in the way of something. Whether that was a legal catch or him robbing a homer, we’ll never quite know.”
Athletics: After a day off, RHP Andrew Triggs (2-0, 4.70 ERA) will get the ball to open a road series against the Seattle Mariners and RHP Felix Hernandez (3-2, 4.96). Triggs has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season.
Astros: RHP Charlie Morton (3-0, 1.86) starts on Monday against the New York Yankees and RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 7.71). The last time Morton faced the Yankees was in Game 7 of the ALCS last season at Minute Maid Park, when he worked five innings and combined with Lance McCullers on a three-hit shutout.