Astros-Athletics Preview

Posted by srtrny on April 22nd, 2013

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Jed Lowrie is a big reason the Oakland Athletics have already swept a three-game series from the Houston Astros this season.

The shortstop hasn't been as effective since.

Lowrie and the A's attempt to avoid a third straight loss Monday night when they hope a visit from the Astros can get their offense revved up again.

Oakland (9-4) outscored Houston 23-9 and hit seven homers to sweep all three meetings on the road April 5-7.

Lowrie went 7 for 13 with two homers in that series, his first against the Astros since being traded to the A's in February's five-player deal that sent Chris Carter to Houston.

Lowrie, though, is 5 for 22 since facing his former team.

The A's totaled 10 hits while losing back-to-back home meetings with Detroit after batting. 314 with 18 homers during a nine-game winning streak. They had a double and two singles in Sunday's 10-1 defeat.

"We came back here swinging the bats as well as we can, " manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "I still think we have a good offense. We just got shut down the last two days. "

Tommy Milone (2-0, 4. 50 ERA) has been a major beneficiary of Oakland's offensive outbursts. He's been backed by 16 runs through two games, and another strong performance could make him the first A's pitcher to win his first three starts prior to the end of April since Dave Stewart won six straight to begin 1990.

The left-hander had the offense to thank for his 11-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday, as he allowed four runs and seven hits with three walks in five innings.

"Obviously, I don't want to go out there and give up four runs every outing, " Milone said. "But when we're scoring a lot of runs like that, it makes it a little easier to throw the ball over the plate. "

Milone gave up three runs over 5 2-3 innings in his only start against Houston on Sept. 9, 2011, while pitching for Washington.

He's facing an Astros team that totaled 11 hits while losing its last two games against the Angels. That followed a three-game winning streak during which it homered nine times and scored 29 runs.

Houston (4-8) struggled at the plate again Sunday, stranding 10 runners in a 4-1 loss.

The Astros will give the ball to Erik Bedard (0-0, 0. 00), who's 4-0 with a 0. 55 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 32 2-3 innings over his last five starts against the A's. Only one of those, however, has come since May 2009.

The left-hander will be looking to go deeper in this outing than he did Tuesday. He tossed 66 pitches and yielded one hit and two walks in four innings of a 16-9 win at Seattle in his first start.

Bedard threw 3 1-3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen in Houston's opener with the team not needing its fifth starter through the first rotation turn.

"I'd rather be healthy the whole year than just one outing. So I threw 65 and that's what it was, " Bedard said.

He may not have to contend with Coco Crisp, who has missed the last two games with a groin injury. The center fielder is hitting. 333 with four homers, and he went 7 for 14 while going deep in each game against the Astros in Houston.

This is the Astros' first series in Oakland since the A's swept three games June 7-9, 2002.


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