The visiting Athletics go for a fifth consecutive win and a three-game sweep of the Astros, who try to avoid a fifth straight loss Sunday afternoon.
After scoring one run in opening 0-2, Oakland (4-2) appears to have found its groove. The Athletics have averaged 7.0 runs and hit a combined eight homers during their winning streak, and they stayed hot in Saturday's 6-3 victory.
Coco Crisp , Jed Lowrie , and Seth Smith all went deep for Oakland, which went 4 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Lowrie is 9 for 15 with two homers, four doubles and four RBIs during the winning streak.
The A's also got a boost Saturday from Bartolo Colon , who earned the victory in his first appearance following a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test in August.
"I had to take care of myself because there were a lot of new guys that I didn't even know," Colon said of facing the Astros. "The only guy that I know is Carlos Pena ."
Houston's relatively obscure lineup could be in for a rough road ahead if its early-season efforts are any indication. The Astros (1-4) have hit .183 and been outscored 25-6 during their four-game skid, and their 60 strikeouts through their first five games are the most by any team since 1921.
Houston had struck out at least 13 times in each of its first four contests before fanning four times Saturday.
"I couldn't tell you how many it was yesterday or how many it was today," manager Bo Porter said when asked about the strikeouts. "What I do know is we lost the game."
"These guys are going to hit. We have no doubt in our minds we are going to hit. It is just a matter of time."
Things aren't about to get any easier with a matchup against A's No. 1 starter Brett Anderson (0-1, 2.57 ERA) in store. The crafty left-hander, though, was outdueled by Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on opening day, yielding two runs, four hits and four walks over seven innings of a 2-0 defeat.
"I was definitely impressed with Brett," catcher John Jaso told MLB's official website. "The lights come on, and it's a different guy out there. He's competitive, and he's throwing the ball hard. That performance that he gave out there, that's definitely one that deserves a win."
Anderson has never faced the Astros and has no experience against any of their players except Pena, who is 3 for 8 with a homer. Pena, though, is batting just .167 (3 for 18) with seven strikeouts thus far.
The Astros, meanwhile, give the ball to Lucas Harrell (0-1, 1.50), who yielded six hits over six innings of one-run ball but took the loss in Tuesday's 7-0 defeat to Texas. While Harrell fared well, he was outdueled by Yu Darvish , who came within one out of throwing a perfect game.
"Lucas was outstanding," Porter said. "Even the time he got into jams, he was able to make pitches to make the double play to get out of them."
In his only career start versus Oakland, Harrell gave up one run, five walks and four hits over six innings, earning the win opposite Anderson during a 6-1 victory July 30, 2010, while with the Chicago White Sox.
|March 27, 2013||Hiroyuki Nakajima||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 26, 2013||Adam Rosales||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
|March 23, 2013||Fernando Rodriguez||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 14, 2013||Fernando Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|February 14, 2013||Grant Balfour||Day-to-Day||Right knee surgery - out 4-6 weeks|
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|March 31, 2013||Alex White||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Fernando Martinez||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
HOUSTON (AP) -- Brett Anderson bent over to stuff some things into his suitcase, stood up and bumped his head into the open door at the top of his locker.
It was a fitting end to an up-and-down day for Oakland's starting pitcher who got a win against Houston, but also deflected two Astros hits off his left thumb and wrist and needed X-rays after the game.
"It doesn't feel great," Anderson said of his wrist. "I got a couple other places on my body that doesn't feel good now either with my head now and my wrist."
Anderson struck out 10 more Houston batters and the Athletics backed him with three home runs for a 9-3 win Sunday and a three-game sweep of the Astros.
He got bruised on his thumb in the second inning and dinged on his wrist in the sixth.
"Other than the fact that I couldn't get out of the way, it was a pretty good day," Anderson said. "I pitched pretty decent, got some ground balls and some strikeouts and got a win."
Coco Crisp homered for the third straight day, Jed Lowrie again connected against his former team and Chris Young homered in his hometown. The A's sent Houston to its fifth straight loss.
The Astros, playing their first year in the American League, went 1-5 on their season-opening homestand against Texas and Oakland. They'll now start a nine-game road trip to the West Coast against division opponents.
"You never look forward to going on the road, but it might be a fresh start to get on the road a little bit," Houston's Brandon Barnes said. "It's just one of those things where we'll try to go out and have fun."
Anderson (1-1) and the A's bullpen combined for 14 strikeouts. The Astros' 74 strikeouts through the first six games are the most in major league history since 1921, STATS said. The previous mark was held by Colorado, which fanned 65 times through the first six games of 2004.
Houston has reached double-digit strikeouts in five games. All but one starting pitcher the Astros have faced has either set or tied a career high for strikeouts against them.
Anderson tied a career high for strikeouts in only six innings. He allowed two unearned runs and five hits.
Oakland right fielder J.J. Reddick was injured when he ran into the wall chasing a foul ball in the fifth inning. He sprained his right wrist when he fell trying to catch the fly by Marwin Gonzalez and is listed as day to day.
Reddick said after the game that he was sore and his palm was bruised. But he was relieved that X-rays were negative.
"I was scared," Reddick said. "I was nervous that something was seriously wrong because I lost feeling in that area for quite a while. I never lost feeling in the fingers, so I knew it was a good sign."
Lowrie, traded from Houston to Oakland in February, homered for the second straight game. He had a two-run drive in the third and finished with three hits.
Lowrie has started the season with a six-game hitting streak, going 13 for 23 with three homers, four doubles and six RBIs in that span.
Crisp added a solo shot in the fourth, giving him home runs in three straight games for the first time since 2008. Crisp went 7 for 14 in the series, including the three homers and four doubles.
"A lot of times when we're playing well Coco is playing well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It kind of starts with him a lot of times being the leadoff guy and the catalyst we kind of get a lot of our momentum from him."
Young stretched the lead to 8-0 with a three-run homer in the fifth. He grew up in Houston and extended his hitting streak against the Astros to 11 games.
Young has had more success against Houston than any other team he's faced. He has four homers, five doubles and 16 RBIs during his current streak against the Astros, dating to Aug. 8, 2011. His .405 career average at Minute Maid Park is the second-highest by any player with at least 70 at-bats.
"I think it's just coincidence," he said. "I don't know. There may be something to it. But I was just trying to get a ball up in the zone, and it was good timing with a couple of guys on base."
Lucas Harrell (0-2) yielded seven hits and eight runs in 4 1-3 innings. It ended a streak of 31 straight starts in which he pitched five innings or more.
"The big key was not locating the ball," Harrell said. "When you're getting up in the zone and you're a sinker-ball guy, it's going to be a long day."
NOTES: The Astros begin a series at Seattle on Monday when RHP Philip Humber opposes LHP Joe Saunders . ... The A's are off Monday before opening a series against the Angels on Tuesday.