OAKLAND -- Josh Reddick's season-long slump officially ended Saturday when he backed up a three-hit game with another three-hit performance, including a game-winning single with one out in the ninth inning in a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
In collecting three of the A's 14 hits, Reddick upped his average to .200, or more than double where he sat at the start of the three-game series against the Astros.
Sure, the right fielder has put in plenty of hard work in trying to bust out of a 4-for-41 funk to start the season. But, the answer to regaining his stroke might have been as simple as stumbling across a box of his bats stashed above teammate Alberto Callaspo's locker.
Reddick used one of those bats Friday in the series opener and banged out three hits in four at-bats. So, naturally, he snagged another one of his bats from that once-hidden box Saturday and hammered three more.
"We were blaming it on that," Reddick said of his slump before finding the stash.
Reddick started Saturday's game 0 for 2. He finished with three straight singles, with the third one scoring Yoenis Cespedes with the decisive run.
Cespedes' run was the only time the A's held an advantage on the scoreboard. As he touched home, it set off a wild celebration in the middle of the infield, with Reddick somewhere in the middle.
"We often talk about guys who are in deep slumps, sometimes it only takes one game where you get a couple of hits or a couple of balls up, you start to feel a lot better about yourself," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Reddick.
It wasn't just Reddick who made a winner out of Dan Otero and prevented starter Scott Kazmir from being saddled with his first loss of the season.
Shortstop Jed Lowrie ignited the three-run rally in the ninth with a leadoff home run. Callaspo tied the score with a run-scoring single that also enabled Cespedes to get to third.
Perhaps most impressive, Reddick's hits Saturday were to the left side, the right side and up the middle, respectively. He now is dictating at-bats.
"It's showing me it's where I want to be in the box with every pitch," Reddick said. " ... Being able to not be so pull-happy or go-the-other-way-happy shows me that I'm where I need to be and I have enough confidence in myself to do everything."
Kazmir's confidence hasn't wavered from the time he signed with the A's. He turned in his fourth straight impressive outing and kept the A's within striking distance through eight innings of six-hit, no-walk ball.
Melvin said, "He pitched great again. He threw over 100 pitches today, basically in the same fashion we've seen him every time. He certainly didn't deserve to get a loss."
The Astros scratched out runs in the third, fourth and fifth. Meanwhile, the A's weren't having much success against Brett Oberholtzer and two relievers.
Yet, Kazmir said, he felt as if it was just a matter of time, as long as he kept the game close.
"Just go as deep as I can," Kazmir said, "and as long we got it close, I feel like we got a good chance."
"I'm going to say the same thing I said (Friday) night: nothing happened yesterday," Porter said.
Porter apparently took umbrage with Lowrie bunting, presumably because the A's had such a sizable lead. Hence, reliever Paul Clemens threw at Lowrie on back-to-back pitches in the third inning.
After Lowrie flew out to end the inning, Porter rushed out of the dugout to confront Lowrie near the first-base line.
"I don't understand the reaction," Lowrie said Saturday. "He just blew his top. For him to run on the field like that, point at me and yell at me like that. I don't get that.
"If you're going to give up, OK. If you have plans of scoring runs, we're going to try to score as many runs as we can."
The Astros placed a shift on Lowrie in the first inning, playing Lowrie to pull the ball to the right side.
Lowrie bunted toward third base, where Clemens fielded the ball and threw in time to get Lowrie at first.
"It's the first inning, you're playing a shift. Isn't that what you're asking me to do by doing that?" Lowrie said. "So, I didn't understand the reaction."
O'Flaherty isn't expected back from Tommy John surgery, anytime soon. He isn't eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list until May 29.
However, it's possible that he will face batters when the A's return from their next road trip, Melvin said.
Follow Steve Corkran on Twitter at twitter.com/CorkOnTheNFL.