OAKLAND -- The last thing L.J. Hoes' mother told him after he called to wish her a happy birthday was to hit a home run. Considering he had hit only three homers in his first 88 career games in the Majors, Gale Hoes might have seemed less wishful had she asked for a new car.
Hoes proved to be up to mom's challenge, though, belting a solo homer with one out in the 12th inning Tuesday night off relief pitcher Fernando Abad to send the Astros to their third consecutive win over the A's, 3-2, at O.co Coliseum.
"To be able to do that for her is a special thing," he said.
The Astros won their second game in a row and only their fourth in 17 career games in Oakland, which has dominated them. The first-place A's are 25-8 against the Astros, who have beat Oakland three times in a row for the first time in their history.
"We want to get to where those guys are at right now," Hoes said. "They've been to the playoffs the last two years, won the division the last two years. That's what we want to work to do. We want to build something around here where we can start winning division titles and going to the playoffs and stuff like that. We know we have to compete with those guys and beat those guys."
The Astros' bullpen held the A's to two hits in five scoreless innings in relief of starter Brett Oberholtzer, who allowed seven hits and two runs (one earned) in seven innings. Josh Fields continued his strong run by retiring all six batters he faced, and Darin Downs needed one pitch for the win. Chad Qualls worked a 1-2-3 12th inning for a save on the 10th anniversary of his Major League debut.
"Oberholtzer did a great job -- seven strong innings against a really good Oakland lineup," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Our bullpen, obviously, did a tremendous job of keeping it right there. All those guys just passed the baton from one guy to the next and Qualls did a good job of closing it out."
A's starter Scott Kazmir, who grew up in the Houston area following the Astros, allowed seven hits and two runs (one earned) and struck out six batters in seven innings and tipped his cap to his hometown club.
"Very improved, especially games like this, close games, for them to pull it out, it shows signs of a good team," he said.
Chris Carter went 3-for-5 with two RBIs against his former team and is hitting .360 with six homers and 13 RBIs in his past 13 games. Meanwhile, Jose Altuve banged out three more hits, raising his Major League-leading total to 138, though he was caught stealing to snap his streak of consecutive steals at 28.
"That's a gutsy team win against a team that's in first place in our division, on the road, and to play solid baseball all the way we played solid baseball tonight [with] great pitching, great defense, timely hitting and Carter swung the bat well," Porter said. "It's a big team win."
Oberholtzer made another strong case to stay in the rotation, which he has done repeatedly recently. After beginning the year by going 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA in seven starts before being sent down, has gone 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in the six starts in which he's bounced between Houston and the Minor Leagues.
"I think his mindset has been great this entire time," Porter said. "The times in which we've sent him out and brought him back, I think he understood where he was at. He made some adjustments and he's really doing a tremendous job of pitching to the inner third of the plate and he's giving us quality starts each and every time he's gone out there."
Porter said the Astros won't determine the future of the rotation until it turns over in the next few days. But Collin McHugh made a successful rehab outing Tuesday at Triple-A Oklahoma City, throwing 80 pitches over five innings, and could return to the Astros this weekend. He's been on the disabled list with a fingernail issue on his right middle finger.
Whether Oberholtzer goes back down again remains to be seen.
"Obviously, I would like to be in the big leagues," he said. "Who wouldn't? But any time I get the ball I try to do my best and prepare as well as I can and execute the game plan and keep it simple."