Athletics-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics are happy to give Bartolo Colon another chance after he let them down last season.

Back from a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone, the veteran right-hander looks to help the visiting A's win four in a row and hand the Houston Astros a fourth consecutive defeat Saturday night.

Colon was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA after 24 starts when he was suspended by major league baseball Aug. 22. He admitted knowing he failed a drug test about six weeks before the suspension but continued to pitch. The A's, however, went on to win the AL West without him.

"The only thing I can say about last year is I apologize to everybody, even the fans, the team, the front office about what happened,'' Colon, who turns 40 next month, said during spring training.

The Oakland organization forgave him long before then and even re-signed him to a one-year contract worth $3 million.

"I feel loved, because Oakland gave me the opportunity to come back and be part of it again," Colon said.

Though Colon went 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA and allowed 31 hits over 20 innings in six spring training appearances, A's manager Bob Melvin confidently made the decision to start him when he becomes eligible to return Saturday.

"You want to get him started sooner than later," Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "We would've had to find another place for him to go pitch, and we just want to get him in there. We had targeted this all along."

Colon is 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA in six starts against the Astros, but has not faced them since 2007 with the Angels.

He'll face a Houston club that was shut out in 23 consecutive innings until scoring in the sixth of Friday's 8-3 loss to the A's (3-2).

Making their AL debut with the lowest payroll in the majors, the Astros (1-3) have recorded those three runs and 16 hits in three games since pounding out nine hits in an 8-2 season-opening win over Texas. They've also struck out an astonishing 56 games in four games, including 13 on Friday.

"In the major leagues you're going to get at least one pitch to hit, and when you get it you've got to put it in play hard,'' first-year Houston manager Bo Porter said. "And if you don't put it in play hard you're going to find yourself chasing the pitcher's pitch, and that's what happened (Friday).''

Second baseman Jose Altuve, who had an RBI against the A's, has seven of his team's 25 hits in 16 at-bats.

Oakland totaled one run while dropping its first two games but has scored 22 to win the next three. Coco Crisp hit a leadoff homer then had a pair of doubles with two RBIs during the A's seven-run fifth inning Friday.

Crisp is 6 for 14 (.429) in the last three games after going 0 for 7 in the first two.

The A's will get their first look at Houston's Bud Norris, who allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings to earn the win Sunday. Those are the only two runs the right-hander has yielded over 19 innings while winning three straight starts dating to last season.

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