Athletics 8, Astros 3

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- The Oakland Athletics turned one inning of exquisite offensive execution and another night of Houston Astros offensive ineptitude into an 8-3 victory on Friday evening at Minute Maid Park.
Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and a walk to pace the Athletics' 10-hit attack. Oakland (3-2) took full advantage of the Astros' ongoing struggles at the plate as four pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts to extend the Astros' early futility.
Houston (1-3) became the first team in major league baseball history to open a season with four consecutive games of 10-plus strikeouts on offense. The Astros have accumulated 56 strikeouts in just 129 at-bats.
If Athletics right-hander Dan Straily needed a tonic for his uneven Cactus League performances, he found it in the form of the Astros' scuffling lineup. Straily allowed just three hits two trips through the Houston batting order and, like the trio of Texas Rangers starters who preceded him, he set a new single-game standard for strikeouts.
Technically, Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison merely matched his career high for strikeouts by fanning nine Astros in Sunday night's season opener. But Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando bypassed their previous strikeout bests, and Straily did the same by punching out Brett Wallace in the bottom of the sixth for his ninth strikeout of the contest.
Twice previously Straily, making his eighth career start, recorded eight strikeouts in a game, including on his last trip to the Lone Star State (Sept. 24, 2012, at Texas). By the time Straily reached double-figure strikeouts in the sixth inning, the Athletics were comfortably ahead.
Oakland exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning, chasing Astros right-hander Brad Peacock before terrorizing Houston relievers Xavier Cedeno and Rhiner Cruz. Cedeno failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced, surrendering a two-run single to Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson after walking three batters, and before plunking Eric Sogard.
Oakland excelled without showcasing a power display. Two runs scored on a fielding error by Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez in the at-bat prior to John Jaso delivering a squeeze bunt that scored Josh Reddick.
Chris Young worked a 10-pitch walk before Donaldson plated Yoenis Cespedes and Jaso. Crisp smacked a two-run double off Cruz to cap the scoring in the fifth. Crisp homered off Peacock to lead off the first.
Peacock (0-1) pitched into the fifth inning and allowed just two runs. After scuffling through a 28-pitch first inning, he quickened his pace and retired eight consecutive batters before Crisp chased him with the first of his two doubles in the fifth.
NOTES: Athletics first baseman Brandon Moss remained in the Bay Area after leaving Thursday's game against the Seattle Mariners in the sixth inning to join his pregnant wife, who had gone into labor, at the hospital. Moss remains on the active roster and could join the team this weekend. ... On Thursday, the Astros acquired left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley from Oakland in exchange for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert. The Astros sought a left-handed long reliever with American League experience and Blackley fit the bill, posting a 7-7 record and 5.11 ERA over 30 career appearances (21 starts) in the AL. ... The Athletics' opening five starting pitchers -- Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily -- have an average age of 25.03 years, the youngest rotation in the majors. Bartolo Colon, 39, is scheduled to start for Oakland on Saturday.

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