HOUSTON (AP) Alex Bregman homered twice and his tapper just in front of the plate in the 11th inning led to a bizarre play that ended the game, as catcher Jonathan Lucroy's throwing error handed the Houston Astros a 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Justin Verlander pitched six sharp innings and the Astros took a 4-0 lead into the ninth before Oakland tied it.
Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer with two outs in the top of the 11th off Collin McHugh (5-0) to put the A's ahead, but the Astros staged their own rally.
All-Star closer Blake Treinen (5-2) walked pinch-hitter Josh Reddick, who went to third on a single to right field by rookie Kyle Tucker. With the infield playing in, Tony Kemp hit a grounder to shortstop Marcus Semien. He made a low throw home that Lucroy was unable to handle, allowing Reddick to slide in safely with the tying run.
One out later, Bregman's dribbler started out foul before spinning into fair territory just a few feet up the first base line. Bregman failed to run initially, so Lucroy scooped up the ball and reached for Bregman as he backpedaled - the bat still in his hand - in an effort to dodge the tag.
But the ball slipped out of Lucroy's bare hand, pinballed off plate umpire David Rackley and Lucroy, and then fell to the ground. Still with plenty of time, though, Lucroy picked up the ball, set his feet with an angle to throw to first base - and fired the ball off the back of Bregman's helmet as he ran up the line.
The ball deflected into foul territory in right field, and Tucker trotted home with the winning run.