HOUSTON (AP) - Rookie J.D. Martinez watched Houston's best chance to sweep go right past him.
Martinez struck out looking with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning. The Astros went on to lose 6-4 to the San Francisco Giants in the 11th Sunday on Pablo Sandoval's two-out, two-run homer.
The Astros were trying to win their season-high fifth in a row. Martinez, who had three hits and drove in two runs, had an opportunity to win it on his 24th birthday.
Instead, he looked at strike three from Jeremy Affeldt (2-2).
``It was all building up to be a fairy tale, but then I went up there and froze 0-2,' Martinez said. ``I didn't think he was going to throw me that pitch. He put it right there on a platter, and I took it.'
Carlos Lee then flied out, and the inning was over.
Before that, Martinez was doing fine.
The Giants were poised to take the lead in the eighth with the bases loaded and one out. Instead, Chris Stewart hit a fly ball to left field that Martinez caught, and he made a perfect throw to catcher Carlos Corporan, who blocked the plate and tagged the sliding Nate Schierholtz.
``I always felt like I had a good arm,' Martinez said. ``You don't get that many opportunities to show it in left field, so I was just wanting the ball. I was like, 'Hit it over here, hit over here, hit it over here.' When I got it, I was able to get behind it, and I was close enough to make a play at the plate. It came out perfect and had everything on it.'
Astros manager Brad Mills said the strong throw was something he hadn't seen from Martinez in spring training or since he had been called up from the minors less than a month ago.
A few innings later, Sandoval hit his 15th homer, connecting against Mark Melancon (6-4).
``It's frustrating because I thought we played a really good game,' Melancon said. ``It's tough. I think it was just bad location.'
Affeldt pitched two innings for the victory. He has allowed an earned run in 17 1-3 innings since the All-Star break.
Henry Sosa made his third major league start and it came against his former team. Sosa was traded to the Astros on July 19 in a deal that sent Jeff Keppinger to the Giants. He pitched five innings but did not figure in the decision.
San Francisco got a quick lead off Sosa on Brandon Belt's three-run homer after Aubrey Huff doubled and Schierholtz singled to start the second.
``I thought I was throwing my best pitch, and that is the fastball,' Sosa said. ``He hit my best pitch. Nothing I can do about that. I felt good. My arm felt better today. I was throwing strikes.'
The Astros tagged starter Dan Runzler and reliever Guillermo Mota for four runs in a second inning that included four walks. Runzler yielded a single to Jimmy Paredes and walked Clint Barmes and Jason Michaels to start the second inning. Corporan hit into a double play, scoring Paredes.
Sosa walked and Jose Altuve had an RBI single to bring on Mota, who walked Jason Bourgeois. Martinez followed with a two-run single to right field for a 4-3 lead.
``It was sure great to see the guys battle all the way until the end,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``I thought our guys did a great job of battling all the way until the end. The bullpen did a heck of a job from the sixth through the 11th.'
San Francisco loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth but Schierholtz flied out.
NOTES:The Astros optioned RHP Jordan Lyles to Triple-A Oklahoma City in anticipation of OF Jordan Schafer coming off the disabled list on Monday. General manager Ed Wade said Lyles would return with the September callups.
The Associated Press News Service
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