OAKLAND, Calif. -- A's rookie right-hander Sonny Gray said he has had people comparing him to former Oakland ace Tim Hudson, another "short righty" with electric stuff, since his high school days in Tennessee.
After putting on a dazzling show Thursday afternoon in his first career start in O.co Coliseum, Gray can expect the Hudson comparisons to pick up steam.
Gray (1-1) pitched eight shutout innings for his first major-league victory, a 5-0 win over the Houston Astros.
The 23-year-old allowed only four hits and had nine strikeouts, dominating the Astros with mid-90s heat and a sharp-breaking curve. He walked only one and lowered his ERA to 1.00.
Gray said he "absolutely" likes the Hudson comparisons.
"I mean, if you're compared to Tim Hudson, he's one of my favorite pitchers, one of the greatest ever," said Gray, a first-round draft pick in 2011.
A's rookie first baseman Nate Freiman 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 a career-best four RBIs. Jed Lowrie had the A's other RBI on a first-inning double.
Freiman said it was "awesome" watching Gray, a fellow rookie,dominate the Astros.
"I first ran into him last year in the Texas League when he pitched against us, the Padre affiliate (San Antonio)," Freiman said. "We were all really, 'Man, this guy is good.' I'm not urprised. I'm happy for him, and it was a great day for the team, but none of us are surprised. We all know that is the type of pitcher he is. He's got amazing stuff."
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 in the sixth. 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 led off the seventh with a single, Gray retired the next three Astros hitters in order.
"He has a natural cutter, a fast curve and he's aggressive," Corporan said of the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Gray. "He gets right at you. He makes good pitches and there wasn't much we could do."
After dropping the first two games in the 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. "This is a great feeling," Gray said. "I'm glad we could come away
with a win after losing the last two nights. I feel like that was big and hopefully we can go on a roll now."
Astros left-hander Erik Bedard had his second straight rough outing at Oakland. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Thursday's effort 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 gave up a three-run homer to Freiman in that nightmare.
The A's claimed Freiman off waivers on March 23 from Houston, which had selected him in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft. He haunted Bedard and his former team once again. Freiman hit a two-run double in the first inning when the A's grabbed a 3-0 lead. He lofted a two-run homer over
the left-field fence in the third, 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.
Houston manager Bo Porter said the Astros waived Freiman because they had a logjam at first base.
"It just came down to a numbers game," Porter said. "Nate did a tremendous job for us and we hated to see him go. When he left, I told him, 'You belong in the big leagues and somebody's probably going to claim you.' Give the Oakland Athletics credit."
Porter, though, said the main reason the A's won was that Gray outpitched Bedard.
"He threw the ball outstanding, and he's very exciting," A's catcher Derek Norris said of Gray. "I'm looking forward to catching him several hundred times."
NOTES: Norris (back spasms) returned to the lineup after missing four games but came out after the seventh inning when his back tightened up. He's day to day. ... 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.