Major League Baseball
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      === Astros benefit from shoddy pitching, defense in ninth by A's ===
 Houston,  TX  (Sports Network) - A  pair of monumental streaks for the Oakland
 Athletics came to a close Tuesday night, thanks mostly to miscues in the ninth
 inning against the team with the worst record in the majors.
 Grant Balfour served up the tying two-run homer to Matt Dominguez and Jonathan
 Villar scored on Derek Norris' throwing error later in the ninth as the Astros
 shocked the A's, 5-4, to snap a 12-game skid versus Oakland.
 Balfour  had converted  his last 44 save chances, an Oakland record, including
 all 26 this season, but Dominguez crushed the tying homer to left-center field
 with no outs.
 "That's  pretty  much what  it was,  getting the  ball up  and laying off that
 slider," Dominguez said.
 Balfour  (0-2),  who committed an  error that  allowed Justin Maxwell to reach
 second on a  single  to start the  ninth, suffered his first  blown save since
 April 29, 2012 at Baltimore.
 "I  just didn't luck out tonight," Balfour said. "It got a little bit ugly and
 I didn't make pitches and put away guys."
 Villar doubled to left with one out. Jose Altuve walked and he slipped between
 first and second when a pitch got away from Norris. The catcher recovered, but
 his throw to first baseman Brandon Moss was wide of the base. By the time Moss
 recovered  to throw home  it was too late as Villar came home to end Houston's
 six-game slide.
 Josh  Donaldson was hit  by a pitch and Moss followed by hammering a 2-2 pitch
 from  Jose Cisnero over  the wall in right field to give the AL West leaders a
 4-2 edge in the eighth.
 A  Dominguez  error led to  Jed Lowrie scoring in  the first inning, but Jason
 Castro singled in Villar in the bottom of the frame.
 Coco  Crisp scored on  a Moss double play groundout in the third. A second run
 would  have come home, but Donaldson was tagged out at first to end the inning
 just before John Jaso crossed the plate.
 Altuve's sacrifice fly to center scored Brandon Barnes in the fifth.
 Prior to the late runs, the game was a pitching duel between Jarrod Parker and
 Jarred Cosart as both went seven innings. Cosart threw 115 pitches.
 Josh  Fields (1-1)  fanned two in the top  of the ninth to get his first major
 league win.
                                   Game Notes
 Barnes  left  the game with a  mild left calf  strain ... The A's were without
 Home  Run  Derby champion Yoenis  Cespedes again due to  a sore left wrist. He
 hasn't  played since  prior to  the All-Star  break ...  Cosart, who  made his
 Minute  Maid Park debut  as a native of nearby League City, allowed seven hits
 ...  This was  Houston's first win over  the A's since June 12, 2007 at Minute
 Maid Park.
 07/24 02:29:05 ET