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A’s hurt by another forgettable fourth inning, drop series to Astros

A’s hurt by another forgettable fourth inning, drop series to Astros

OAKLAND — For a second time in the last three days, the A’s were sunk by a disastrous fourth inning.

Max Schuemann’s two-error sequence in the fourth paved the way for the Astros’ five-run frame and starter Aaron Brooks’ early exit, the result being a 5-2 loss to drop the series on Sunday at the Coliseum.

Houston scored the game’s first run in the fourth by way of Yainer Diaz’s sacrifice fly, and that appeared to be all the Astros would score in the frame. With two outs and a runner on first, Mauricio Dubon chopped a grounder to Schuemann, who had plenty of time to flip to second for the inning-ending force out. Instead, Schuemann not only fumbled the exchange, but hurriedly flipped the ball past second baseman Zack Gelof, giving the Astros runners at second and third with two outs.

That mistake, in essence, would cost Oakland the ballgame.

Following the error, Jose Altuve drove in two runs with a single, then Kyle Tucker followed with a two-run shot, his major-league leading 18th home run of the season. Instead of being down one run, the A’s found themselves down five. Brooks, who threw an extra 13 pitches following the error, was only charged with one earned run.

Schuemann hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, his third of the season, but the one swing couldn’t make up for his two defensive miscues.

The shortstop’s homer would be the only run the A’s would score against Houston’s Ronel Blanco, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball six strikeouts to one walk. Sunday was Blanco’s first start since May 14, when he was ejected and subsequently suspended for 10 games due to a sticky substance found inside his glove.

On Friday, the A’s suffered through an equally brutal fourth inning. Ross Stripling, placed on the injured list prior to Saturday’s game, retired the first nine batters he faced, but allowed six runs on eight hits in the fourth, pulled from the game before completing the frame.

Left-hander Jack O’Loughlin, selected from Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday, tossed three scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his major-league debut, striking out slugger Yordan Alvarez looking in the ninth.

Shea Langeliers chipped in a solo home run off Josh Hader in the ninth inning that barely cleared the center-field fence, his 11th  homer of the year.