Athletics-Astros Preview


Jarrod Parker's record may not show it, but he's been among baseball's best pitchers over the last two months.

His first career meeting with the Houston Astros may further solidify that status.

Parker hopes to win for the first time in over a month Tuesday night and help the Oakland Athletics remain perfect against the Astros this year.

Parker (6-6, 3.95 ERA) has a major league-best 0.83 WHIP in his last 11 starts, and he's also compiled a 2.33 ERA while limiting opponents to a .179 average.

Despite those numbers, the right-hander is just 4-1 over that span since he's been backed by two runs or fewer in six of those outings.

The bullpen hasn't been much help, either. Each of Parker's last four starts have resulted in A's losses, and the relievers have been responsible for each while surrendering 12 earned runs in 11 1-3 innings.

That trend continued July 12, when Parker allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings before the bullpen gave up two runs in the eighth of a 4-2 loss to Boston.

He may feel encouraged about getting his first win since June 18 at Texas since AL West-leading Oakland (58-41) has won 12 straight meetings with the Astros, including all 10 this year.

The A's are hitting .295 while averaging 7.2 runs against them this season. They've hit 14 of their 15 homers against Houston in seven meetings at Minute Maid Park, where the bullpen has a 2.41 ERA.

Oakland's winning streak against the Astros (33-65) appeared to be in jeopardy Monday, but Josh Reddick completed the rally with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning of a 4-3 victory. Before that, the A's fell behind 3-0 after three innings, committing three errors.

"We didn't give up. We didn't put our heads down and say, 'Oh well, we are just having a bad game,'" manager Bob Melvin said.

It's unclear if Melvin will have Yoenis Cespedes back in the lineup due to a sore left wrist. The left fielder has missed all four games since the break after winning the Home Run Derby.

Oakland could have a tough time beating the Astros again with Houston scheduled to start Jarred Cosart, one of the organization's top young arms.

The 23-year-old right-hander's tremendous display in his major league debut was enough to earn him a spot in the rotation. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 2-1 win at Tampa Bay on July 12, and ended up allowing two singles before leaving with no outs in the ninth.

"We just want him to continue to pitch," manager Bo Porter told the team's official website. "We all know the talent he has. It's a big arm. It's a guy who has tremendous stuff. I said this even after the last start. People wanted to compare Jarred Cosart to different people.

"I said, 'Let's allow Jarred Cosart to be Jarred Cosart.' Over time he'll be able to answer all of those questions. But there will be no undue pressure placed on him. He's going to be one of five guys that will get the ball once every five days."

Cosart was acquired from Philadelphia in the 2011 Hunter Pence trade, and went 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 93 innings over 18 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Chris Carter, a member of the A's the last three years, is batting .139 against his former team after going 1 for 4 with an RBI on Monday.