The AL West-leading Oakland Athletics are surely sad to see baseball's worst team leave town.
Oakland tries to take advantage of its final matchup against the Houston Astros as these teams conclude their season series Sunday.
The Athletics (82-60) have made a habit of beating up on the Astros (47-95), taking 19 of 24 all-time matchups, including 14 of 18 this year. After moving into sole possession of first place in the division with Friday's 7-5 victory, Oakland hung on for a 2-1 win Saturday.
Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes provided all the offense with their 11th and 22nd homers, respectively, as the A's moved a season-best 22 games over .500. Oakland has hit .302 with 20 homers in winning 10 of 13 overall.
After getting seven scoreless innings from Dan Straily , Oakland would love to see Bartolo Colon (14-6, 2.90 ERA) deliver a similar performance. The 40-year-old right-hander, though, is looking to snap a season-high five-start winless stretch after yielding four runs - one earned - in five innings of Tuesday's 5-1 defeat to Texas.
"I pitched the ball well," Colon, who has posted a 6.48 ERA during a three-game losing streak, told MLB's official website.
Colon may like his chances of bouncing back against the Astros, whose .300 on-base percentage is the AL's worst. Colon had posted a 1.89 ERA in winning three consecutive starts in the series before yielding five runs over four innings in a 5-4 loss Aug. 13.
Aside from that showing, Colon has surrendered two earned runs or fewer in each of his other nine home starts dating to May 31.
Chris Carter is 1 for 10 against Colon, and Matt Dominguez is 2 for 9. Carter, who spent his first three seasons with Oakland, is 9 or 66 (.136) with one homer and 24 strikeouts while playing in all 18 games against the A's this year.
Hoping to get back on track, the Astros give the ball to rookie Paul Clemens (4-4, 5.91) for his third big league start. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone without a decision while posting a 3.72 ERA since joining the rotation Aug. 27.
Clemens labored through 3 2-3 innings in Monday's 10-6 loss to Minnesota, surrendering four runs, seven hits and three walks.
"You can't be behind in counts consistently," he said after throwing 42 of his 77 pitches for strikes. "I have to attack, get ahead of guys and get in my favorable counts. I was putting those guys in a position of success getting behind in counts. That burned me."
Clemens has a 1.17 ERA in two relief appearances versus Oakland spanning 7 2-3 innings.
He will need to be careful against Cespedes, who is 11 for 28 (.393) with two homers in seven games this month after hitting .216 in August. The star left fielder is batting .378 with two homers and six RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak versus Houston.
Lowrie, who was acquired in the Carter deal, is hitting .313 with three homers, 12 RBIs and 12 runs in 16 games in the season series.
|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) -- Bartolo Colon is getting back into the groove that made him the Athletics most dominant pitcher early in the season.
He's even got a new spot in the major league record books to prove it.
Colon allowed one run and five hits over six innings to win for the first time in more than a month, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Houston Astros 7-2 on Sunday.
In beating Houston for the fourth time this season, the 40-year-old Colon became the first pitcher in AL history to win 15 games for four teams. He did it previously with the Indians, White Sox and Angels.
"I thought I had a great outing today," said Colon, who struck out seven and walked one. "The only problem that I had was the first two guys. I was more concentrated right after that happened."
Colon (15-6) gave up a single to leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar and a run-scoring double to Jose Altuve before settling in.
It's the first time in five starts Colon has gone at least six innings. He was the Athletics' most consistent pitcher through the first half of the season until tiring over the past month.
"After the first two hitters, it looked like that got his attention in a hurry," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Good movement, good location. A lot of good things came out of Bartolo's outing for us today."
Colon had not won since July 26, though the five-game winless streak was deceiving. He has allowed just one earned run in each of his last three starts, lowering his ERA to 2.85.
"I feel like I have more power than the last (few) outings," Colon said.
Brett Anderson pitched the final three innings for Oakland for his third save.
The A's won the final three games of the series after dropping the opener, and finished 8-2 on the homestand.
Seth Smith homered during a seven-run third inning, Brandon Moss had three hits and drove in two runs while Yoenis Cespedes added two hits and an RBI for the AL West-leading A's.
Smith hit his eighth home run of the season to cap the third when the A's did all of their scoring. The towering three-run shot to right field came off Astros emergency starter Lucas Harrell (6-16).
Harrell had been working out of the bullpen until he was pressed into duty when scheduled starter Paul Clemens was scratched about an hour before the game because of a blister on his right hand.
"When you pitch out of the bullpen, the one good thing about that is you come to the ballpark every day believing that you're going to pitch," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I don't think the short notice had anything to do with his performance."
Porter was ejected for the second time this series when he went out to talk to pitcher Erik Bedard in the bottom of the fifth.
Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt went out to the mound, and at some point he and Porter exchanged words. Porter remained on the field after getting tossed and continued to argue with Wendelstedt before heading to the clubhouse.
Most of the damage had been done by then.
Moss hit a two-run double off Harrell in the third, Cespedes added an RBI single and Daric Barton also knocked in a run before Smith's home run made it 7-1.
Houston scored its other run in the seventh when Brandon Barnes singled in L.J. Hoes.
NOTES: Hoes was the only Astros player with multiple hits. ... Cespedes is hitting .406 (13 for 32) in September. ... Barnes has reached base in nine consecutive games for Houston. ... Altuve leads the majors with 15 hits this month.