The Oakland Athletics try to continue their dominance of Houston when they host the Astros on Saturday in the middle contest of a three-game series. The Athletics improved to 21-5 all-time against the Astros with an 11-3 victory Friday. Oakland has won five of its last six contests and is the only team in the majors that hasn’t lost consecutive games this season, while Houston has lost 12 of its last 15 games as it appears destined for a fourth straight 100-loss season.
Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes extended his hitting streak to 13 games against the Astros and is batting .415 during that span after homering among his three hits and driving in three runs Friday, including a two-run single in Oakland’s seven-run first inning. Coco Crisp returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Sunday because of a hamstring injury and started the big frame by drawing a walk and added a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Houston’s Brett Oberholtzer has allowed four earned runs or fewer in his first 13 major league starts and opposes Scott Kazmir, who left his last start with a sore triceps but will not miss a turn.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, CSN Houston, CSN California (Oakland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50) vs. Athletics LH Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.40)
Oberholtzer has been hurt by a lack of run support as Houston has scored four runs in his three starts, and was shut out 1-0 at Texas on Sunday when he yielded one run and five hits in seven innings while striking out seven. The 24-year-old Christiana, Del., native has a 0.94 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in 18 innings and a .206 batting average against this season. Oberholtzer lost his only start to the Athletics 2-1 on Sept. 7 in Oakland when he allowed one run in six innings.
Kazmir benefits from an extra day off because Oakland did not play Thursday after he departed Sunday’s 3-0 victory at Seattle with nine strikeouts. The 30-year-old Houston native dealt with the injury during spring training and manager Bob Melvin doesn’t believe it is serious. Kazmir is 12-9 since making one start in 2011 and missing all of 2012 with a shoulder injury, and began working his way back to the majors by pitching in independent ball. “He threw 95 (Sunday),” Melvin told reporters of Kazmir. “He was dominating. I know he’s having a lot of fun, and he’s fit in well on this club.”
1. Houston is 0-8 this season when it doesn’t hit a home run.
2. Oakland RHP Dan Otero has not allowed a homer in 59 1/3 career innings.
3. The Athletics and LHP Sean Doolittle agreed to a five-year contract, with club options that could keep the converted first baseman with the team through 2020.
PREDICTION: Athletics 3, Astros 2