HOUSTON — Collin McHugh worked six shutout innings and a reconfigured bullpen closed out the Houston Astros 3-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
McHugh (1-2) earned his first victory on the season in his sixth start after missing three-plus months with an elbow injury. It was a bit of a rocky road for McHugh, who retired the side in order only once and relied on grounders and his defense to eliminate baserunners.
The Astros (76-47) turned three double plays behind McHugh, who allowed six hits and walked one batter while striking out three, and six overall. Oakland went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position thanks in large part to baserunners being cut down before reaching second.
A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman (3-4) matched McHugh with six innings, allowing six hits and striking out three. He surrendered a two-run single to Marwin Gonzalez in the fourth inning, a grounder that clipped the glove of lunging second baseman Jed Lowrie.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a leadoff homer, his 15th home run on the season and second in as many games.
Francisco Liriano, Joe Musgrove and Tyler Clippard, all relative newcomers to the Houston bullpen, worked an inning apiece to close out the Astros’ 12th victory in 14 games against Oakland (53-70) this season.
McHugh labored early and needed 24 pitches to complete the top of the second. He snagged a fielder’s choice grounder to erase Marcus Semien, who had doubled with one out in the first inning, and worked around a one-out walk to Matt Olson in the second.
Double plays in the third, fourth and sixth helped ease McHugh along when Oakland created traffic on the bases.
A nine-pitch fifth inning in which McHugh retired the side in order allowed him to complete the sixth and, despite some tense moments, depart with a scoreless card and the lead.
NOTES: With RHP Will Harris (right shoulder inflammation) and LHP Tony Sipp (right calf soreness) having faced live hitters Friday and C Evan Gattis (concussion) completing a position-specific workout, the Astros are poised to send all three out for a rehab assignment to Double-A Corpus Christi early next week. … Athletics UTL Chad Pinder made his first career appearance in center field Friday night, shifting from right field in the bottom of the eighth inning. Oakland manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that Pinder could log additional innings in center over the final six weeks of the season. … After exiting the game Friday night with a left hand contusion, crew chief Jerry Layne was back umpiring at third base. Layne was hit by a foul ball in the seventh inning in the series opener.