HOUSTON — With their lineup at full strength for the first time in more than two months, the Houston Astros put on an offensive show against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
"When we're healthy, we're the best team in baseball," third baseman Alex Bregman said.
Bregman and Tyler White homered and drove in four runs each, and the Astros rallied for an 11-4 win over the Athletics. It was the sixth straight win for the first-place Astros, who moved to 2 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the AL West.
George Springer and Jose Altuve helped in the victory, driving in a run each during a five-run third inning that erased an early 4-0 deficit. This was the first game Springer, Altuve and Carlos Correa were in the lineup together since June 25. Springer, who pinch-hit Sunday, missed the previous five games with a quadriceps injury.
"When we're going well we have this extended lineup, this long lineup where it doesn't matter where we are, we're a threat. We showed that again tonight," manager AJ Hinch said. "So it certainly felt good that the guys stepped up and put up crazy good at-bats."
The Astros led by 1 with two on and one out in the eighth inning when Bregman, who tied a career high with four hits, sent a pitch from Lou Trivino just over the short fence in left field to push the lead to 8-4. White made it 11-4 with two outs in the inning when he launched a fastball from Emilio Pagan onto the train tracks atop left field for another three-run shot.
The Athletics jumped on starter Gerrit Cole (12-5) for four runs behind a two-run homer by Marcus Semien in the second and a two-run run shot by Matt Chapman in the third. The homer by Chapman was his 21st after he homered twice Sunday.
Cole settled down after the tough early innings to throw three scoreless frames and collect his second straight win. He allowed four hits and struck out eight to move ahead of teammate Justin Verlander (229) and into first place in the AL with 234 strikeouts.
Trailing 4-0, the Astros got a single from Martin Maldonado off Brett Anderson (3-4) with one out in the third inning before Springer cut the lead to 4-1 with a double to left field. Bregman followed with a double to send another run home. Altuve then knocked a third straight double into left field to score Bregman and get Houston within 4-3.
An RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, who finished with three hits, with two outs in the inning chased Anderson. Yusmeiro Petit was greeted with a single by White, which scored Gonzalez to put the Astros up 5-4.
"The five-run inning gave them some momentum and we just couldn't do anything offensively against them after that," manager Bob Melvin said.
Anderson was disappointed that he had another tough outing against the Astros after allowing 10 hits and nine runs — both season-highs — in three innings of a 16-2 loss to them on May 7.
"They're a good team with a good lineup and have everybody back at full strength," he said. "I just couldn't stop the bleeding. It's unfortunate that I've had two really (bad) outings against the team that we're chasing."
Astros: C Brian McCann (knee surgery) will return to Houston on Tuesday after completing a rehabilitation assignment, and the team will decide whether to activate him in the next couple of days or wait until Saturday when the rosters expand. ... RHP Chris Devenski (left hamstring tightness) will pitch in a rehabilitation game for Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday.
Just before his home run in the eighth inning, there was a delay during White's at-bat because he was having a problem with one of his contacts.
"Usually I can get it to clear up pretty quick and I couldn't get it, so I got some rewetting drops to clear it up," he said. "Then I had to take my glove off and like move it all the way across my eye to get it right."
After that, he was able to see clearly, and it showed when he connected on his ninth homer this season.
WHAT A RELIEF
Daniel Mengden, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Monday, allowed four hits in four scoreless innings to help Oakland's taxed bullpen. It was his first relief appearance in the majors after 37 career starts and could be his only one for a while with Melvin saying there is a possibility he could rejoin the rotation after this series.
Houston's Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05 ERA) opposes Oakland's Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.97) when the series continues on Tuesday night. Morton, who got his first win since July 31 in his last start, can tie a career high for victories.