After picking up another win against baseball's worst team, the Oakland Athletics find themselves in sole possession of first place in the AL West.
The Athletics try to continue their playoff push Saturday night when they play the third of four against the visiting Houston Astros .
Oakland (81-60) has mostly had Houston's number, going 18-5 in the all-time series. The A's took this season's first 10 matchups by a 72-34 margin before dropping four of six, but they are coming off Friday's 7-5 victory.
That win, combined with Texas' 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels , gave Oakland a one-half game lead over the Rangers for the division lead.
"It doesn't matter until the end of the season, we know that too well," said Donaldson, who went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer and career-high three runs. "We're really not trying to focus on it right now. We're trying to take care of our business."
Oakland, which had eight of nine starters collect at least one hit, and five different players drive in at least one run, has hit .303, averaged 5.8 runs and clubbed 18 homers in winning nine of 12.
"That shows that we have multiple ways that we can score runs," Donaldson added. "That's what it takes. If you're going to score seven, eight runs, it's not all the time going to come by the long ball. It's going to come by guys manufacturing and having good approaches at the plate."
The A's will try to stay hot behind Dan Straily (8-7, 4.38), who is looking to win a career-high third consecutive start. After throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 14-4 victory at Detroit on Aug. 28, Straily allowed two runs and three hits in five innings to beat Texas 4-2 on Monday.
"You come out there and understand the magnitude of the situation, and you're very determined to get the job done," he said.
Straily baffled Houston (47-94) in his only start in the series, yielding two runs and striking out a career-high 11 over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-3 road victory April 5.
He may need to come out with another superb showing pitching opposite rookie Brett Oberholtzer (4-1, 2.79), who has compiled a 1.98 ERA in six starts since joining the rotation July 31.
The left-hander breezed through Seattle's lineup in Sunday's 2-0 win, throwing 83 of his season-high 113 pitches for strikes in a four-hitter - Houston's first complete game of the season.
"Right away I could tell he was really trusting his stuff," catcher Jason Castro told MLB's official website. "He's got a good idea of what he's doing out there. He was pounding the strike zone, getting ahead and able to do more. That plays a big role in keeping the pitch count down."
While his stuff isn't overpowering, Oberholtzer is able to keep hitters off balance with a deceiving changeup.
"With his fastball at 90 mph, it's not the typical 90," Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin said. "It's a little sneaky."
Oberholtzer will need to be careful against Donaldson, who is 8 for 18 with two homers, four doubles and five RBIs in his last four games. The third baseman is batting .486 with two homers, five RBIs and 10 runs during a 10-game span versus Houston.
Astros relievers have compiled a 6.00 ERA in the team's 3-8 stretch.
Castro went 0 for 5 as the designated hitter Friday, his first game back after missing three due to a right knee injury. The All-Star is mired in a 3-for-16 slump.
|September 02, 2013||Jason Castro||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right knee sprain|
|August 22, 2013||Max Stassi||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 21, 2013||Max Stassi||Day-to-Day||Left game - head|
|August 20, 2013||Carlos Corporan||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|September 02, 2013||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shin contusion|
|August 26, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|August 25, 2013||Josh Reddick||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
|August 21, 2013||Derek Norris||15-Day DL||Fractured left big toe|
|August 21, 2013||Derek Norris||15-Day DL||Fractured left big toe|
|August 14, 2013||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Dan Straily was so good Saturday he rode a stationary bike after his sparkling outing. He needed more work.
Straily pitched seven scoreless innings to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros .
Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie homered as the A's won for the seventh time in nine games to remain on top of the AL West. They began the day with a half-game lead over Texas.
"I guess it's a good thing when you have to ride the bike after the game," Straily said. "I had good fastball command and it helped set up my other pitches."
Straily (9-7) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one in his third consecutive victory. The right-hander has a 1.50 ERA over 18 innings during his winning streak.
Dan Otero allowed a run in the eighth, but Sean Doolittle got four outs for his first save in four chances, completing the five-hitter.
"That was awesome," Doolittle said of Straily. "He was in control all day long. That was a really big start. It was only a one-run lead but it kind of seemed like the game was in hand with him on the mound."
Doolittle said he was a little more ramped up for his second career save as well.
"It's a different beast going out there for the save," he said. "That was a rush for sure."
Brandon Barnes had a run-scoring fielder's choice for Houston's only run. The major league-worst Astros have dropped nine of 12.
Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (4-2) pitched six stellar innings, allowing one run and seven hits.
Straily retired his last nine hitters and 12 of his final 13 batters. He allowed one runner to reach third and he was stranded when Jonathan Villar was thrown out at second by Cespedes trying to stretch his single.
"With them being an aggressive team, which you can see all over the field, sometimes it can help if I can match that aggressiveness," Straily said.
Matt Dominguez hit a leadoff double in the fifth, but Straily struck out Chris Carter and Brett Wallace , and Matt Pagnozzi grounded out to shortstop.
Oberholtzer gave up Cespedes' 22nd homer leading off the fourth. After Nate Freiman singled, Oberholtzer retired nine of his final 11 hitters.
"He pitched very well," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He left the one pitch up to Cespedes and Cespedes put a charge into it but overall he did a tremendous job of battling and kept us right there."
Lowrie connected with two out in the seventh against Josh Zeid .
Wallace doubled with one out in the eighth and eventually scored on Barnes' slow grounder to the pitcher. Barnes stole second and then tried to take third, but Doolittle stepped off the mound and easily threw him out.
"I couldn't believe he tried to go again," A's catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "It was a tie game and he's a fast guy. We did the inside move and he was running again. Good for us."
NOTES: A's LHP Hideki Okajima cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento. ... A's OF Coco Crisp was given a scheduled day off. ... RHP Bartolo Colon (14-6, 2.90) starts the series finale on Sunday for the Athletics. He's lost his last three decisions. ... Cespedes is hitting .393 (11 for 28) in September. ... The Astros will send RHP Paul Clemens (4-4, 5.91) to the mound on Sunday. Clemens is making his third start after 30 relief appearances. ... Astros OF Robbie Grossman (strained oblique) missed his fourth consecutive game and remains day-to-day. ... RHP Edgar Gonzalez (right shoulder strain) was added to the roster at Double-A Corpus Christi and was scheduled to pitch an inning on Saturday. ... Houston C Carlos Corporan (concussion) played five innings for the Hooks on Friday night and was in the starting lineup again Saturday. ... Carter leads the AL with 189 strikeouts. ... The Astros recalled IF Brandon Laird , OF Jim Paredes, RHP David Martinez and RHP Rhiner Cruz from Triple-A Oklahoma City. All will be available on Sunday.