Matt Olson’s homer backs Sean Manaea, A’s beat Astros again

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Matt Olson #28, Ramon Laureano #22 and Robbie Grossman #8 of the Oakland Athletics celebrate after they beat the Houston Astros at RingCentral Coliseum on September 10, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Matt Olson #28, Ramon Laureano #22 and Robbie Grossman #8 of the Oakland Athletics celebrate after they beat the Houston Astros at RingCentral Coliseum on September 10, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Athletics have long been a stellar second-half team. In a shortened season, they have dominated since Day 1.

Sean Manaea carried a perfect game into the sixth inning en route to winning his fourth straight start, Matt Olson hit a two-run homer and the Oakland Athletics beat the stumbling Houston Astros 3-1 on Thursday.

“Big series,” Oakland's Mark Canha said. “We came in here with the right mindset. It was very businesslike and we made it happen. Well-played series.”

The division-leading A's (27-15) moved 6 1/2 games ahead of second-place Houston in the AL West. The teams split Tuesday's doubleheader that was forced by an Aug. 30 postponement at Houston because of Oakland pitcher Daniel Mengden's positive coronavirus test result.

Oakland had four games postponed and is 5-3 since resuming play last Friday against the Padres. Houston (22-23), which won a majors-best 107 games last season and the past three AL West titles, lost for the eighth time in nine games.

“It's not easy. We're all frustrated," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “But these guys they never get down. They get down momentarily but then they bounce right back.”

The A's have their largest division lead since they were 6½ games up on Sept. 25, 2013.

Manaea (4-2) struck out four and didn't walk a batter over seven innings. The lefty has surged since going 0-2 over his initial five outings. He didn't allow a runner until Josh Reddick doubled leading off the sixth.