OAKLAND (AP) — Martín Maldonado homered and drove in three runs, helping the Houston Astros beat Oakland 8-4 on Thursday to move ahead of the Athletics for the AL West lead.

Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel also had run-scoring hits for the Astros in the rubber match of a three-game series. Houston is 21-9 against division opponents, including 7-3 against Oakland, and at 26-19 has sole possession of the division lead for the first time since before play on April 9.

Mark Canha, Tony Kemp and Seth Brown homered for the A’s (26-18).

Luis Garcia (2-3) won his second straight start, limiting the Athletics to two runs and three hits in five innings with seven strikeouts.

Cole Irvin (3-5) struggled for Oakland, allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin was ejected by plate umpire Alan Porter following the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Canha homered leading off the first, and Houston took a a 3-1 lead in the third, sparked by Maldonado’s RBI double.

Kemp’ hit his first homer with the Athletics in the bottom half and doubled and walked.

Maldonado’s two-run homer boosted the lead to 5-2 in the fourth. Jed Lowrie singled home Matt Olson in the sixth, but José Altuve singled in the seventh inning for a 14-game hitting streak. An run-scoring double by Bregman, who went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, boosted the lead to 7-3.


Astros: RHP José Urquidy, on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, threw off a mound and is expected to go on a minor league rehab assignment soon. … LHP Blake Taylor (sprained ankle) will head out on a rehab assignment in the next couple of days.

Athletics: LHP Jesús Luzardo (fractured pinkie) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Thursday. He will need to throw at least one more bullpen before he faces hitters. … C Sean Murphy returned to the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game early for precautionary reasons. Murphy was hit by a series of foul balls but had no concussion symptoms.


A’s: RHP James Kaprielian (1-0, 1.80 ERA) makes his second big league start Friday night as the A’s begin a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels.

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