Astros-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

Losing to the lowly Houston Astros is something the Oakland Athletics likely can't afford during their quest to regain the top spot in the AL West.

The A's look to bounce back from their first-ever home defeat to the Astros on Wednesday night.

Oakland (67-51) leads the wild-card race, but blew a chance to move into a tie with Texas for first place in the division with a 5-4 loss to Houston on Tuesday. The A's had won three of four at Toronto over the weekend, but have dropped eight of 12 overall.

They scored three times in the eighth and Chris Young just missed hitting a game-winning two-run homer in the ninth before he fanned for the final out.

"That's how the game goes sometimes,'' said Young, who went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts Tuesday. "It goes from extremely crappy to amazing to unbelievable to crappy again.''

Owners of the majors' worst record, the Astros (38-80) had dropped 11 of the first 12 meetings this season with Oakland before Jordan Lyles allowed a run through seven innings and they chased Bartolo Colon with five runs in four innings. Brandon Barnes had two RBIs for Houston, which snapped a six-game skid to win for the first time in seven games at the Coliseum.

"Jordan pitched a great game and the offense did just enough to win the game,'' manager Bo Porter said. "It's a big boost for the club."

Ex-Athletic Chris Carter added an RBI double. He has five RBIs this season against his former team, but is 6 for 47 (.128) with 17 strikeouts in those games.

Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes had three hits, including a two-run homer Tuesday. He's 10 for 24 with four RBIs his last six games against the Astros.

After being stymied by Lyles in the opener, Cespedes and the A's could face another stiff challenge against highly-touted Houston rookie Jarred Cosart (1-0, 1.36 ERA). The right-hander has allowed five earned runs but walked 17 in 33 innings of his first five career starts.

Cosart, who has yet to give up a homer, allowed two runs in five innings of a 7-5 loss to Boston last Wednesday.

In his second career start, Cosart yielded two runs - one earned - and seven hits in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 home win over Oakland on July 23.

He'll be opposed by Jarrod Parker (8-6, 4.04), who gave up two runs in seven innings of that contest.

The right-hander went 2-6 with a 5.76 ERA in his first 10 starts, but is 6-0 with a 2.92 ERA during the last 13. He'll try to win three straight starts for the second time this season after giving up three runs in six innings of a 14-6 win at Toronto on Friday.

It's uncertain if Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp will be back in the lineup after he was limited to pinch-running because of a sore left wrist hurt diving for a catch Sunday.

Crisp is batting .386 with four homers, 10 RBIs and 12 walks against the Astros in 2013.

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