A’s outduel Astros 3-1, win four of five in series

Sean Manaea outlasted Jose Urquidy in a classic pitchers’ duel Thursday afternoon as the Oakland Athletics made it four of five in their showdown series against the visiting Houston Astros with a 3-1 victory.Matt Olson provided the big blow with a go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning for the A’s.Oakland (27-15) took a 3 1/2-game lead over the three-time defending American League West champs into the series and, with consecutive wins both to open and close the set, stretched it 6 1/2 with just 18 to play.Houston (22-23), which arrived in Oakland with a four-game losing streak, has now lost eight of nine.No-hit into the fifth inning and trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, the A’s took the lead for good when Olson followed a two-out walk to Ramon Laureano with his two-run homer, the 12th of the season, for a 2-1 advantage.The Astros pulled Urquidy (0-1) at inning’s end, having allowed two runs and two hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out one.Oakland then padded its lead against the Houston bullpen in the seventh when Mark Canha walked, stole second and scored on a Chad Pinder single.Houston got the potential tying run to the plate in the eighth after a two-out walk, but Jake Diekman got Aledmys Diaz to ground out.Oakland closer Liam Hendriks worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 12th save.