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Athletics stay perfect vs. Astros

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics continued giving the Houston Astros a rude welcome to the American League West on Wednesday.

The A's scored six runs in the first inning off Astros' starter Bud Norris and held on for a 7-5 victory at the Coliseum, sweeping the three-game series less than two weeks after sweeping the Astros in a three-game set at Houston's Minute Maid Park.

"They're in a rebuilding phase, and we came in and we took care of business," said A's shortstop Jed Lowrie, who came to Oakland this year in a trade from Houston. "That's what it takes. You got to beat the people you're supposed to beat."

The A's improved to 11-1 all-time against Houston and 9-0 at the Coliseum, including a three-game sweep in 2002 when the Astros were in the National League. At 12-4, Oakland owns the best record in the American League, and half of those wins are against the Astros.

"We've played the Astros six times and we've gotten six wins, so it would be easy to say, 'Oh, just look at their schedule,'" Lowrie said of the A's fast start. "But that's all we can do. We can't do anything else but win against teams. We come in and do our jobs. That's all we can do. We took care of business."

A's right-hander Bartolo Colon allowed just one run on four hits over six innings, improving to 2-0 and beating the Astros for the second time this season. He struck out three, walked none and threw 97 pitches, 69 for strikes.

A's left fielder Seth Smith went 3-for-5, raising his average to .447. Lowrie went 2-for-3 with a double, driving in a run and scoring one on his 29th birthday. Right fielder Josh Reddick went 1-for-3 with a two-run double in the first inning.

Houston's Carlos Pena hit a home run for the second straight game, a solo shot off A's reliever Chris Resop during a three-run rally in the top of the seventh when the Astros cut Oakland's lead to 7-4. Pinch hitter Rick Ankiel also hit a solo home run off A's closer Grant Balfour in the ninth, making it 7-5.

"We are a resilient group in there," said Astros manager Bo Porter, whose team lost its fifth straight game. "They're going to battle all the way to the end. That's part of the standard of being a Houston Astro, and today was very indicative of that. I'm proud of those guys for battling back after getting down in an early hole and making it a ball game."

Norris, the Astros' Opening Day pitcher, came into the game with a 2-1 record and 1.96 ERA, but he didn't get out of the first inning. He gave up five hits and six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning, the shortest outing of his career, spanning 101 starts.

"I felt good, felt good in the pen," Norris said. "They found a lot of holes in that first half inning. I tried to battle through and keep making pitches. Ball got slick on me at times. (I was) trying to go as deep as I can. Unfortunately, it wasn't my day."

Norris walked three and threw 46 pitches, just 24 of those for strikes, in his first career start in Oakland.

"He just didn't have it," Porter said.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jose Altuve led off with an infield single, moved to third on Jason Castro's single and scored on Chris Carter's fielder's choice ground ball to third.

Oakland answered with six runs in the bottom of the first.

John Jaso led off with an opposite-field double to left. Chris Young brought him home with a single to center and took second on center fielder Justin Maxwell's error. Smith followed with an infield single on a checked swing. Norris then walked Lowrie, loading the bases. After Josh Donaldson popped out, Reddick one-hopped a two-run double off the right-field wall, giving the A's a 3-1 lead. A's catcher Derek Norris walked, re-loading the bases, and Eric Sogard roped an RBI single to right to make it 4-1. Shane Peterson drew a bases-loaded walk, recording his first major-league RBI and giving the A's a 5-1 lead. Jaso drove in the final run of the inning with a ground out to second.

"We were able to draw some walks and get a couple big hits and make him throw a lot of pitches," Lowrie said. "That's key to getting into any club's bullpen early, and we were able to do it twice."

Peterson got his first major-league hit in the fourth inning, a line drive single to center off Xavier Cedeno, and later scored, making it 7-1.

"I was rounding first base and I felt like I hit a grand slam," Peterson said. "It was exciting, a weight off my shoulders."

NOTES: The A's Derek Norris got hit in the jaw by a foul ball in the top of the seventh inning and came out of the game at the end of the inning, with John Jaso, the DH, taking over behind the plate. According to A's manager Bob Melvin, X-rays were negative. Norris said he expects to be able to play Friday when the A's open a road series against Tampa Bay. ... Pena is hitting .345 with four doubles, two home runs and six RBI over his past eight games. ... A's INF Adam Rosales (strained left rib cage muscle) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday night with Single-A Stockton in a road game at San Jose. He has been on the disabled list since March 26. "We'll see how many games that will take," Melvin said. "You like to bring a guy up when he's doing well. When we get back from the road trip, we'll see how he's doing." The A's next home game is April 25 vs. Baltimore. ... A's CF Coco Crisp was out of the starting lineup Wednesday after starting back-to-back games following a two-day absence because of a strained left groin. "That was the plan when he came back," Melvin said. "We were going to give him two games then give him the off day today followed by the off day tomorrow. Then he should be good to go." ... A's OF Yoenis Cespedes (strained muscle, left hand) still has swelling and has not been able to hit since being hurt on April 12. "He's keeping that hand semi-immobile," Melvin said. "He's doing some throwing and running but can't do anything with the left hand at this point." ... Jeff Murphy, the Astros' bullpen catcher and catching instructor, was helped off the field and to the clubhouse after suffering injuries to his left hamstring and knee while pitching batting practice. He took a hard fall when the protective screen in front of the mound was blown over and onto him by a strong gust of wind. After that mishap, sandbags were placed on the base of the screen. ... OF Fernando Martinez (strained left oblique) was scheduled to play in his fourth rehab game Wednesday night for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He went 1-for-11 with two RBIs in his first three rehab games.
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