Murphy, Semien HR; Luzardo sharp in debut as A's beat Astros
HOUSTON (AP) - Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien homered, hyped pitching prospect Jesús Luzardo looked sharp in his major league debut, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Houston Astros 5-3 Wednesday night.
Oakland won for the fourth time in five games. The A's opened the day 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card and a half-game ahead of Cleveland for the second spot.
Houston fell a half-game back of the New York Yankees for the best record in the majors. New York's scheduled game with Detroit was postponed.
Astros starter Jose Urquidy struck out 10 and pitched one-hit, one-run ball over five innings before the A's got to the bullpen.
Semien hit his career-high 28th home run leading off the fourth, and Murphy homered leading off a four-run sixth inning before Matt Olson hit a two-run double, all off Josh James (5-1). Khris Davis capped the sixth with an RBI single to up the lead to 5-2.
Luzardo was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday. He allowed one hit in three innings - a solo homer to Martin Maldonado - and struck out two. The hard-throwing left-hander retired his final seven batters, a promising sign that the starting pitching prospect could make an October impact as a reliever.
Aledmys Díaz gave Houston a 2-1 lead in the fourth with an RBI double, but after loading the bases, Oakland starter Brett Anderson got out of further trouble by inducing an inning-ending double play from Myles Straw.
Astros star George Springer matched a career high with his 34th home run, a solo shot in the third.
Anderson (12-9) yielded two runs and seven hits with four strikeouts in five innings.
Liam Hendriks pitched the ninth for his 20th save.
Athletics: OF Ramón Laureano returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with cramps in his right leg. He went 0 for 3 with a walk and made a nice throw from right field to get Jose Altuve at the plate in the fifth.
Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel, who left Friday's game with a sore left hamstring, could return to the lineup as soon as Friday, manager AJ Hinch said.
Athletics: RHP Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) starts the finale of the four-game series on Thursday looking to continue his recent success after going 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA over his last five starts.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52) has won three straight starts, allowing one run over 21 1/3 innings during that span.
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