It's still very early, but the Oakland Athletics own the best record in the AL.
Nearly all of their success has come at the expense of their division rivals - most notably the newest member.
The A's look to sweep the Houston Astros for the second time this month Wednesday when they conclude this three-game set in Oakland.
Oakland (11-4) has the second-best record in baseball behind 12-1 Atlanta, an outstanding start for a team many felt couldn't repeat as the AL West champ.
The A's have won 10 straight division games against Seattle, Houston (4-10) and Los Angeles after opening the season with back-to-back losses to the Mariners.
Oakland has pounded those West foes, hitting .319 while averaging 8.0 runs over the past 10 games. It's outscored the Astros 38-14 in five meetings with the division's new addition.
Tuesday's victory was a rare close call for the A's against Houston. They trailed 2-0 after three innings and needed Josh Donaldson 's tiebreaking triple in the eighth inning to escape with a 4-3 win.
"You're not going to score 10 runs every night, so it's nice to win a one-run ballgame," said closer Grant Balfour , who has converted 20 straight save opportunities dating to last season.
Donaldson's heroics Tuesday also helped Oakland improve to 10-1 all-time against Houston.
The third baseman may make an impact in the series finale since he's batting .364 with a .432 on-base percentage and six runs over the past eight games. He's also driven in five in that stretch, three of which have been game-winners.
It would seem the A's may have a tough test with Houston turning to Bud Norris (2-1, 1.96), who is emerging as their top starter after going 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA last year.
The right-hander, however, struggled in a 6-3 loss to Oakland on April 6. He surrendered five runs - two earned - and six hits, including homers to Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp , while throwing 122 pitches in 5 2-3 innings.
Norris, though, rebounded in tremendous fashion Friday, yielding three hits in seven innings of a 5-0 road win over the Los Angeles Angels .
"This guy's a No. 1 starter and he's pitched a lot of big games," manager Bo Porter said. "I think his best years are definitely ahead of him. He's growing up right in front of our eyes, and it's a pleasure to see."
Porter isn't finding any pleasure in watching his lineup muster a .192 average during a four-game losing streak
Colon lasted six innings in his 2013 debut, which was his first start since being reinstated from a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test last August.
A three-run homer was again the only damage Colon allowed over seven innings Friday. This one came off the bat of Prince Fielder in a 4-3 win in 12 innings over Detroit.
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 04, 2013||Josh Fields||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 31, 2013||Alex White||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Fernando Martinez||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 13, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||15-Day DL||Strained muscle, left hand|
|April 12, 2013||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Strained left groin|
|April 10, 2013||Scott Sizemore||15-Day DL||Torn left ACL - out for season|
|April 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||Day-to-Day||Sprained right wrist|
|March 27, 2013||Hiroyuki Nakajima||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 26, 2013||Adam Rosales||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- While his former team is struggling through the rebuilding process, Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie is relishing life on the West Coast.
It also helps to play for the club with the best record in the AL.
Lowrie had two hits Wednesday and Oakland used a six-run first inning to beat the Houston Astros 7-5 to complete another three-game sweep.
"We're getting contributions up and down the lineup and that's why we've been consistent so far," said Lowrie, acquired from the Astros in a Feb. 4 trade.
"(The Astros) are in a rebuilding phase and we came in and took care of business. That's what it takes. You have to beat the people you're supposed to beat," he said.
Bartolo Colon pitched six crisp innings, Josh Reddick doubled in two runs during Oakland's big first inning while Seth Smith added three hits for the A's, who improved to a league-best 12-4.
Oakland outscored Houston 22-10 in the series. The Astros have lost five in a row.
"The offense is off the charts at this point," said A's manager Bob Melvin , whose club leads the majors in several hitting categories. "We're hitting on all cylinders."
The A's sent 11 batters to the plate and chased Astros starter Bud Norris in the first inning, then won behind Colon (2-0) and three relievers.
Jose Altuve had three hits and Carlos Pena homered for the second straight day for Houston. Pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel also homered for the Astros.
"We have a resilient group and we will continue to battle to the end," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "I don't believe in moral victories; you either win or lose. But at the same time I liked that we kept fighting."
Colon beat Houston for the second time this season, relying heavily on his curve and changeup most of the game.
The Astros scored their only run off the A's starter when Chris Carter reached on an RBI grounder in the first, then was picked off by the 39-year-old Colon to end the inning.
Colon retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced. He gave up four hits, struck out three and only allowed one runner past first base - Altuve, who singled and scored Houston's first run.
"I think it's the first time my changeup and my curve were working (that) great, so that's why I used them a lot today," Colon said. "We are playing very well as a team and we're feeling very good about it."
Colon, who has not walked a batter in 19 innings this season, lowered his ERA to 3.32.
It was also the second time in three games Houston's starting pitcher failed to get out of the first. Eric Bedard retired just one batter and gave up six runs in Monday's 11-2 loss to the A's in the shortest outing of his career.
Norris (2-2) lasted only slightly longer, sticking around to get a second out when leadoff hitter John Jaso grounded out in his second at-bat of the first.
Reddick broke out of 4-for-39 slump with a double to highlight Oakland's big inning. Chris Young , Eric Sogard , Shane Peterson and Jaso all drove in runs during the outburst.
Lowrie's RBI groundout in the fourth drove in Peterson and made it 7-1.
Houston scored three runs in the seventh off reliever Chris Resop and had the tying run at the plate with two outs before Ryan Cook got Justin Maxwell to strike out looking.
Ankiel homered leading off the ninth against Oakland closer Grant Balfour to cut the lead to 7-5. After Matt Dominguez singled, Marwin Gonzalez reached on a fielder's choice before Balfour got Altuve to ground into a game-ending double play for his third save.
Altuve remains one of the few bright spots for the Astros.
The second baseman had his third game this season with at least three hits and batted .385 (15 for 39) during the nine-game road trip.
NOTES: The A's improved to 11-1 all-time against their new division rivals. ... Both of Norris' losses this season have come against Oakland. ... Astros bullpen coach Jeff Murphy sustained injuries to his left leg and knee when a protective screen fell on him before the game. Murphy was throwing batting practice when a heavy gust of wind blew the screen over, pinning his leg underneath. According to a team spokesman, Murphy pulled his left hamstring and bruised the knee. ... The A's gave CF Coco Crisp (groin) the day off. ... Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) pitches Friday's series opener in Tampa Bay. ... RHP Lucas Harrell , winless in three starts this season, pitches for Houston on Friday in Cleveland.