HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros have looked overmatched in their first season in the American League West — especially against the defending division champion Oakland Athletics.
Shut down by 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, the youthful Astros lost their ninth straight to the A’s this year, 6-2 on Sunday.
Houston is 8-10 against the rest of the West.
“Right now if you were to look you would say, yes, they have our number,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “They’ve beat us nine times in nine tries and today they were just better than us.”
Dating to 2007, Oakland has won 11 straight against Houston, tied for the third-longest winning streak against one team in A’s history.
Colon (5-2) struck out a season-high nine in seven scoreless innings, scattering nine hits. He worked seven innings for the second straight start and for the fourth time in 10 starts this season.
“He’s got such good movement on his fastballs and sinkers that he was able to limit us to singles,” Astros designated hitter Jason Castro said. “Having good at-bats and getting hits is a plus, but we have to keep bearing down and putting runs together.”
Castro had a career-high four hits and went 10 for 12 in the series for Houston. Castro became the first Astros player since Ty Wigginton in 2008 to have three consecutive games of at least three hits.
The Astros outhit the A’s 12-10 but left nine runners on base.
Oakland’s Nate Freiman, who was with the Astros in spring training as a Rule 5 selection, had a double and home run with three RBIs.
After leaving runners on third in two of the first three innings, Oakland sent nine batter to the plate in a five-run fourth against Keuchel (1-2).
Yoenis Cespedes led off by reaching second base on an error by second baseman Jose Altuve. Josh Donaldson followed with an RBI single up the middle. After Jed Lowrie singled, Seth Smith had a run-scoring double and Freiman made it 4-0 with another double. Crisp added a two-out RBI single.
“It seems like with these guys it’s always that one big inning,” Porter said. “They smell it and they take advantage of it. They took advantage of every opportunity in that five-run inning. It started with the error, and it snowballed from there.”
Freiman made it 6-0 with a home run to center field with one out in the in sixth.
Keuchel went six innings, giving up six runs — four earned — and a season-high nine hits. He struck out four.
“I think it was a mixture between me not locating and they taking advantage of it,” Keuchel said. “Throw away that fourth inning and it’s a 1-0 ballgame.”
J.D. Martinez had a one-out double off reliever Ryan Cook in the eighth and Chris Carter hit a sacrifice fly to cut it to 6-2 but that was all Houston would get.
“They have a really well-rounded offense, and it’s been tough for us,” Castro said. “We’ll figure them out the more we see them. It’s a new division for us, so we have to figure all these guys out from scratch.”
The Astros are 14-36 in their first year in the AL, their worst 50-game start in club history.
NOTES: Oakland OF Josh Reddick will begin a rehab assignment Monday at Class-A Stockton, A’s manager Bob Melvin said. Reddick has been on the disabled list since May 8 with a sprained right wrist. ... Lowrie started at second base Sunday after being out of the starting lineup the previous three games after being hit by a pitch on his right foot Tuesday. ... Houston RHP Bud Norris will take the mound Monday against Colorado RHP Jhoulys Chacin. Norris has left each of his last two starts with back spasms. ... Oakland will send RHP Dan Straily to the mound Monday to begin the Bay Area Series against the San Francisco Giants, who will counter with LHP Madison Bumgarner.