A.J. Griffin will try to get the AL West leaders back on track Wednesday in this series finale in Houston.
Going for a 13th straight victory over the major league-worst Astros (34-65), the A's fell 5-4 on Tuesday. Grant Balfour gave up a tying two-run homer in the ninth to Matt Dominguez, ending the closer's franchise-record 44-game save streak, and Jonathan Villar scored the winning run on a throwing error by catcher Derek Norris.
By snapping the majors' longest current losing streak against any opponent, the Astros improved to 1-10 against the A's this season and 2-15 all-time.
"It speaks to the resilience of that group in there,'' manager Bo Porter said.
Dominguez, the team leader with four homers versus Oakland (58-42) in 2013, has one of the Astros' three home runs - Jason Castro has the other two - against Griffin (8-7, 3.82 ERA) this season. All three came in Houston's 11-5 home loss May 25, when the right-hander gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Griffin was tagged for three homers again in Friday's 4-1 loss at the Los Angeles Angels, increasing his team-worst total to 21.
Manager Bob Melvin doesn't seem too concerned, though.
"It means he's trying to get ahead, throw strikes," he told the A's official website after Griffin yielded four runs in five innings. "Guys who have good command tend to give up homers sometimes."
Counterpart Bud Norris (6-9, 3.91) has allowed three home runs in his last two starts, but those were hardly his only problems. The right-hander gave up 13 runs over 10 2-3 innings in those outings sandwiched around the All-Star break, surrendering six over 5 2-3 of Friday's 10-7 loss to Seattle.
Still, Norris continues to be the subject of trade talks with the July 31 non-waiver deadline looming.
"Lot of chatter and no activity on our side right now," general manager Jeff Luhnow told the Astros' official website Monday.
Norris is 0-2 with an 11.37 ERA in two starts against Oakland this season, failing to make it out of the first inning in one of those.
A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, hitless in three at-bats off Norris, had a double in two plate appearances as a pinch hitter Tuesday, his first action of the second half after being sidelined with a sore left wrist. He could start Wednesday, but the Home Run Derby champ is batting .205 with no homers and three RBIs in his last 20 games.
Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes, who hit for the cycle in Norris' last start, left Tuesday's game in the seventh with a mild calf strain. His status for Wednesday is unknown.
The same is true for Houston's J.D. Martinez, who left the contest in the ninth inning with an apparent back injury.
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