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Athletics 9, Astros 3

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Behind a strong, albeit painful, outing from Brett Anderson, the Oakland Athletics extended their winning streak to five games with a 9-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Anderson matched his career high of 10 strikeouts while allowing two unearned runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. Anderson had a pair of batted balls clip his left hand, yet he persevered, enabling the Athletics (5-2) to complete their series sweep over the Astros (1-5).

After belting three home runs Saturday night, Oakland cranked three more in the series finale. Following a one-day respite from their plate discipline woes, the Astros resumed their strikeout ways, fanning 14 times on Sunday to increase their total to 74 during a six-game home stand.

Seeking to avoid a series sweep and a fifth loss on their season-opening home stand, the Astros turned to right-hander Lucas Harrell (0-2), whose last start against the Athletics was the first of his career. Harrell bested Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson on July 30, 2010, but from the very start Sunday it was obvious that Harrell lacked his best stuff.

Harrell worked around a leadoff double from Coco Crisp in the top of the first, but control issues -- he walked Brandon Moss and Chris Young with one out in the second -- began to play a role in his demise. Seth Smith cranked a two-run double to right-center field to lift Oakland to a 2-0 lead in the second, an advantage the Athletics doubled in the third.

Former Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie drilled a 2-1 Harrell fastball down the left-field line and just inside the foul pole for a two-run home run. Harrell walked Moss and Young in succession again, escaped the third without additional damage, but returned for the fourth only to allow a solo homer to Crisp, his third home run in as many games this series.

The bottom fell out on Harrell in the fifth as he surrendered back-to-back one-out singles to Lowrie and Moss before Young ended his afternoon with a titanic three-run homer to left center. Harrell failed to make it out of the fifth yet threw 112 pitches, surrendering eight earned runs on seven hits -- including three home runs -- and five walks.

NOTES: Oakland manager Bob Melvin rearranged his starting outfield to give slumping left fielder Yoenis Cespedes the day off and to Crisp. Seth Smith made his first start in left while Chris Young started in center for Crisp, who served as the designated hitter. ... Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick left the series finale with two outs in the fifth inning after crashing into the wall down the right-field line. Reddick exited holding his right forearm and was replaced by Smith, who was simultaneously replaced by Cespedes. ...v Harrell had his streak of 31 consecutive starts with at least five innings pitched snapped.
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