Ronel Blanco returns from a suspension to shut down the A’s and lead the Astros to a 5-2 win

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Ronel Blanco held Oakland in check for seven innings in his return from a suspension and Kyle Tucker hit a two-run homer to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-2 victory over the Athletics on Sunday.

“Just like he did not lose a beat,” manager Joe Espada said of Blanco. “We were trying to be smart about his pitches, but he was so efficient. He was pounding the zone. His stuff was so good. It was hard to not to let him go back out there and continue to save our bullpen. … Blanco, I can’t speak enough to how good he’s been for us.”

Jose Altuve added a two-run single in front of an announced crowd of 10,927 to help the Astros win the series and improve to 18-4 against the A’s over the past two seasons.

Blanco (5-0) looked sharp in his return from a 10-game suspension for having a foreign substance in his glove during a start against Oakland in Houston last week.

“I really wasn’t focused on that,” Blanco said through an interpreter. “I was mostly just focused on coming here and doing my job, trying to throw my pitches and trying to help my team win.”

He struck out five of his first eight batters and allowed only four hits, including a solo homer by Max Schuemann, before turning the game over to the bullpen. Houston improved to 8-1 in games started this season by Blanco, who has allowed only 33 hits in 54 1/3 innings.

“Another phenomenal start,” Espada said. “We needed it for him to go deep in the game and he did. He had all of his pitches working. Incredible how he pounds his zone. He stays aggressive, induces groundballs when he needs to, gets swings and misses. Just a very strong performance.”

Shea Langeliers added a solo homer in the ninth for Oakland against Josh Hader.

Oakland starter Aaron Brooks (0-2) pitched around trouble in the first three innings, inducing double-play grounders in the first and second and then striking out Alex Bregman top leave the bases loaded in the third.

Brooks appeared to be on his way to working out of the fourth allowing only one run before a pair of errors by Schuemann at shortstop led to a big inning for Houston.

Schuemann bobbled a two-out grounder by Mauricio Dubon for an error and then threw it wildly to second base for his second error on the play, allowing runners to advance to second and third.

Altuve followed with a two-run single and Tucker then hit his 18th home run to give the Astros a 5-0 lead.

“After that play happens, you’d like to be able to get the next out,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “We kind of let the game slip away from us.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Cristian Javier did not throw his scheduled bullpen session before the game because of “a little forearm discomfort,” Espada said. Javier is day to day. … 1B José Abreu, who accepted a minor league assignment after a sluggish start to the season, is set to rejoin the the team on Monday in Seattle after going 0 for 7 with a walk in two rehab games with Sugar Land.

Athletics: RHP Ross Stripling was set to see a doctor Sunday to determine the severity of his strained right elbow.

UP NEXT

Astros: LHP Framber Valdez (3-2, 4.32) is set to start the opener of a four-game series at Seattle on Monday.

Athletics: Oakland is off for Memorial Day and will begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday with RHP Mitch Spence (3-2, 4.09) expected to start the opener.

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