OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland A's rookie right-hander Sonny Gray's first career start in O.co Coliseum turned out to be one he won't soon forget.
Gray put on a dazzling show for the home fans Thursday afternoon, pitching eight shutout innings and recording his first major-league victory, a 5-0 win over the Houston Astros.
The 23-year-old Gray (1-1) allowed just four hits. He struck out nine, dominating the Astros with mid-90s heat and a sharp-breaking curve. He walked only one and lowered his ERA to 1.00. Gray threw 118 pitches before giving way to Dan Otero, who worked a scoreless ninth.
A's first baseman Nate Freiman, a fellow rookie, gave Gray more than enough offensive support by himself. Freiman had a career-high four hits, going 4-for-4 with a double, a home run and four RBIs, another career high. Jed Lowrie had the A's other RBI on a first-inning double.
The Astros didn't have a hit off Gray until Robbie Grossman lined a two-out single to center in the third inning. Gray struck out Brett Wallace to end the inning.
Grossman had Houston's second hit, too, grounding a one-out single to right off Gray. Gray, a first-round draft pick in 2011, struck out Wallace and retired Jose Altuve on a fly ball to center field, ending that threat.
After Carlos Corporan hit a leadoff single in the seventh, Gray retired the next three Astros hitters in order.
Gray didn't give up an extra-base hit until Jonathan Villar sliced an opposite-field double with one out in the eighth. But Gray struck out Grossman, who took a curveball for strike three. Then with A's fans on their feet, urging him on, Gray retired Wallace on a comebacker.
After dropping the first two games in this series to the last-place Astros, Oakland won the finale, avoiding a sweep. The A's pulled to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Texas in the American League West.
Astros left-hander Erik Bedard had his second straight rough outing in O.co Coliseum. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. Thursday's outing was actually an improvement over his previous start at Oakland on April 15 when he gave up six runs and lasted just one-third of an inning -- the shortest outing of his career -- in an 11-2 A's win. Bedard walked four, threw a wild-pitch and gave up a three-run homer to Freiman in that nightmare.
Freiman had his way against Bedard again. He hit a two-run double in the first inning when the A's grabbed a 3-0 lead. Then with one out in the third, Freiman lofted a two-run homer over the left-field fence, increasing Oakland's lead to 5-0.
Freiman has three home runs this season and two of them are off Bedard. The other came against Astros reliever Dallas Keuchel.
NOTES: A's CF Coco Crisp (strained left wrist) was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game. He had a cortisone injection Tuesday night and A's manager Bob Melvin said there's a chance Crisp could return to the lineup on Friday night against Cleveland. "We'll see how he is tomorrow," Melvin said. "Whenever you get an injection like that, it's probably a minimum of two days. Two days might be the timetable for that. Hopefully, that's the case. If not, and we need to give him another day tomorrow, we'll do that." ... Melvin and Astros manager Bo Porter said they favored proposals to expand the use of instant replay. "I'm just a firm believer that everything you can do to get it right, I think that's in the best interests of the game," Porter said. Melvin said, "You want to get it right. I was a little bit of a traditionalist before where there's human error involved, but as long as everybody's on the same page with it and the idea is to get it right, then I'm all for that."