Tony Kemp homers, hits 2-run 2B as A’s beat streaking Astros

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. – Adam Oller sat at his locker a nervous wreck as he watched the stressful final few outs on a corner clubhouse TV, elbows on knees and knees bouncing into the air.

Lou Trivino eventually finished it, and Oller finally had his first major league win, more than four months in the making.

“I’m glad it’s over,” the 27-year-old said of the weight off his shoulders, the sheer relief, special game ball ready to be sent to mom.

Tony Kemp homered and hit a two-run double, Skye Bolt added a two-run shot, and the Oakland Athletics held off the red-hot Houston Astros 7-5 on Monday night then celebrated Oller afterward with a beer shower.

Oller (1-3) struck out four over five innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on four hits and earned the victory in his sixth start and fourth stint of the year with Oakland that included some relief appearances.

He arrived in the trade in March that sent ace Chris Bassitt to the Mets. During one return to Triple-A Las Vegas, Oller was told to only throw fastballs until he rediscovered his rhythm.

“It’s unreal,” said Oller, who was born just outside Houston and still lives in the area. “It only took four months but we got it.

“It goes back to all the stuff in between, all the ups and downs in the minor leagues, all the long hours in the offseason working to finally get to this point. It goes to trusting your stuff. That’s kind of been something I’ve dealt with in the past, not being as confident in myself, thinking I don’t deserve to be there.”

Elvis Andrus added an insurance RBI single in the eighth for Oakland before closer Trivino surrendered a solo homer to Chas McCormick, then finished for his ninth save by striking out Jeremy Pena with runners on first and second.

AL West-leading Houston took its first defeat after a 5-0 start since the All-Star break. The Astros are an AL-best 28-10 dating to June 12 and are now 32-17 against the AL West.

“The bottom of their order, 7 and 8, Bolt and Kemp, they beat us by themselves tonight,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve certainly got to do do better against them.”

Pena homered in the first for Houston before Kemp’s tying drive leading off the third against right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-3), who had been 4-0 over his previous seven starts but dealt with a blister this time that bothered him.

Yordan Alvarez came home on a double-steal in the sixth and Pena doubled and scored on pitcher Domingo Acevedo‘s throwing error on a pickoff attempt as Houston pulled within 6-4.

Oakland’s Chad Pinder made his third career start at first base and first since 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: LF Michael Brantley, sidelined since June 27 with right shoulder discomfort, continues baseball activity but it’s unclear when he will begin swinging again. … All-Star DH Alvarez returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s series finale with a sore right hand. Baker hopes to get him in the outfield again soon.

Athletics: RHP Dany Jimenez, who went on the 15-day injured list June 21 with a strained pitching shoulder, will throw about 20 pitches in live batting practice Tuesday. … INF Jonah Bride came off the 10-day injured list and 1B/OF Seth Brown was placed on the paternity list. … Oakland also recalled LHP Sam Selman from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned RHP David McKay to Las Vegas.

DRAFT PICKS

A’s second-round draft pick Henry Bolte was in uniform and took batting practice a day before reporting to Arizona to begin his minor league career. Manager Mark Kotsay likes his swagger already at just 18.

“As a big A’s guy, Rickey Henderson was stealing bases all the time. I might not be as fast as him, he’s a little special, but playing that type of way, I’m going to run out a hard 90 (feet), I’m going to steal bags,” Bolte said. “Most of the time I’m going back in the locker room with a dirty jersey, that’s how I like to play.”

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Luis Garcia (8-5, 3.65 ERA) looks to win his sixth straight decision in the middle game of the series Tuesday.

A’s RHP Frankie Montas (3-9, 3.16) makes what could be his final start in an Oakland uniform ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Montas should be at full strength after being limited to three innings in his previous start, which came after he missed two outings with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.