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HOU@OAK: Donaldson laces go-ahead triple in eighth

OAKLAND -- Shane Peterson may have walked away from his Major League debut without a hit on Tuesday, but it was his glove that was to be remembered on this night.

Called up from Triple-A just hours earlier to fill in at first base for Brandon Moss, stationed on the paternity list, Peterson's third-inning diving play was one of the only reasons the A's salvaged a 4-3 victory over the Astros.

Josh Donaldson's RBI triple -- the club's record-tying third three-bagger of the night -- in the eighth to unlock a 3-3 tie helped, too, of course, carrying the A's to their second straight win and fifth overall in as many tries against the Astros this season.

Overall, they have 11 victories, most in the American League, and their 11-4 ledger, including a 10-2 mark against the AL West, is their best after 15 games since the 1990 club started 12-3.

Donaldson's game-changing hit came with two outs against right-hander Rhiner Cruz, who just moments before had walked Josh Reddick, and eased any pain felt by Sean Doolittle, the lefty who surrendered Carlos Pena's game-tying home run in the top half of the inning.

"He's maturing to the point now where he's not trying to hit a home run to left field all the time in those situations," manager Bob Melvin said. "It takes maturity and some experience to know that in those situations, you're not going to hit a ball in that you can pull, that they're going to make you work and hit a ball the other way, and he's done it several times now."

"That definitely helps knowing you can hit the ball over the right fielder's head, but it's one of those things where, when I'm hitting well, I'm hitting the ball that way anyhow," Donaldson said. "That's a big focus for me, is to make sure I'm going to right field, because any time I get a little too pull-conscious, I start to get exposed on other pitches."

Donaldson's heroics, staged just four days after he was responsible for Oakland's walk-off win over Detroit, were not to be forgotten. But neither were Peterson's in the third.

Two Astros having already crossed home plate in the frame, with the bases loaded against a struggling A.J. Griffin, Rick Ankiel laced a sharp liner down the right-field line that was trapped by a stretched-out Peterson, ending what could have been the continuation of an ugly inning -- and saving a few runs.

"At least two, right?" Melvin said, smiling.

That's exactly why Griffin deemed him "the player of the game, in my opinion."

"To come up huge in that situation, to make that play, that's the play of the game right there, not to take anything away from Donaldson's triple," Griffin continued. "But that play's huge, kept us in the game and allowed me to keep going.

"It's one of those momentum changers. They have the bases loaded, they have something brewing right there, but he came up huge and we got the momentum back in our dugout."

That was all Griffin needed to reemerge as his usual self, retiring all 11 batters he faced after issuing a career-high four walks, along with three hits, in his first two-plus innings. The righty also struck out eight.

Melvin never made a call to the bullpen in that time, mostly for lack of resources.

"I didn't have enough to cover today," he said. "I had confidence he was going to turn it around. Sometimes a starter just has to wear it or figure it out, and he figured it out.

"I don't know that I've been more proud of him than today. One thing you can count on is his command all the time. He was really fighting himself. You could see it for a while. Then after the third he just decided, 'You know what, I'm starting over and going to make my pitches and be confident.' Then all of a sudden he gives us six innings that we needed. It was quite a turnaround for an outing that we really hadn't seen out of him before."

All at once, Griffin's teammates came alive at the plate, where they overcame a sluggish start against former A's farmhand Brad Peacock -- collecting just one hit through the first three innings -- to tag him for three runs over the next two. Eric Sogard finished with three of the A's eight hits, falling a home run short of the cycle.

And Peterson, though hitless, still finished with a smile.

"Obviously you don't picture yourself the first day in the big leagues going 0-for-4," he said, "but that's what tomorrow's for."

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