HOUSTON -- Grant Balfour's reign as the only major league closer without a blown save this season ended in the ninth inning Tuesday when he couldn't hold a two-run lead as the Houston Astros rallied for a 5-4 victory over the A's on a throwing error by catcher Derek Norris.
Balfour didn't blame Norris. Balfour blamed Balfour.
Brandon Moss, who was the target Norris was aiming for at first base on the fateful throw, didn't blame Balfour or Norris. Moss blamed Moss.
John Jaso, who had a chance to score in the first and third innings but ran the bases poorly, didn't blame Balfour or Norris or Moss. Jaso blamed Jaso.
One thing you can say about this 2013 Oakland A's team: They have standup guys, players who aren't afraid to make mistakes and who aren't afraid to own up to them when they do.
The trouble is, the A's have been making mistakes in Costco-sized bunches these days. Three errors in a victory over the Astros on Monday, three more in Tuesday's loss, and plays that could have been called errors that were ruled hits. They have run themselves out of runs. Pitchers have made throwing errors and uncorked wild pitches.
It's a sloppy look for a first-place team.
The focus Tuesday, however, was on Balfour, who had 26 consecutive saves this season and a streak of 44 dating to April 29, 2012, when he last blew a save against Baltimore.
"Anytime you have a blown save, it sucks," Balfour said. "I felt like the whole inning could have been entirely different."
The A's carried a 4-2 lead into the ninth when Balfour faced Justin Maxwell, who hit a hard comebacker. Balfour knocked the ball down, fell as he scrambled to pick it up, then threw wildly past Moss at first base, allowing Maxwell to reach second base.
"I feel that's an error, because I should make that play," Balfour said, referring to the original grounder rather than the throw. "Then I get ahead 0-2 on the next guy."
The "next guy" was Matt Dominguez, who battled back to work the count full. He fouled off a pitch, then jumped on a fastball and slammed it out to the left side of center field. Just like that, the saves streak evaporated.
"I couldn't put the guy away," Balfour said. "Then I threw a fastball up and away, and he hit it."
From his perch at first base, Moss gave all the credit to Dominguez.
"He was up there battling Balfour," Moss said. "He never looked comfortable by any means. But he stayed short (with his swing) and hit it out. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the other guy.
"If he goes up there saying 'I'm going to tie this one up against Balfour,' he's going to have no chance. Balfour is too dominant for that."
With the home run, the score was just tied. But rookie Jonathan Villar doubled, increasing the pressure on Balfour. Jose Altuve drew a walk because Balfour respects him too much to fool around in that kind of situation.
Then with Jason Castro at the plate, Balfour bounced a pitch that Norris kept in front of him. Altuve was trapped off first base, but Norris threw wildly past Moss at first base as the Astros scored their third walk-off win of the season, ending the A's 10-game winning streak against Houston.
"That's not on Norris, it's on me," Moss said. "All I had to do was move my feet to get in position. But I didn't know where (Altuve) was, or I would have moved."
Anderson, out since April with a sprained ankle and a stress fracture in his right foot, said he was pain-free Tuesday after a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday.
A's (A.J. Griffin 8-7) at Houston (Bud Norris 6-9), 11:05 a.m.