HOUSTON (AP) — Expectations were high for the Oakland Athletics this year after three straight postseason appearances.
But injuries and inconsistent play have left the A’s with the worst record in the major leagues at 14-28.
Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer to help Dallas Keuchel win his eighth straight decision, and the Houston Astros kept rolling with a 6-1 victory over the Athletics on Wednesday.
The A’s have lost six of their past seven and 12 of 14 games, falling to 14 games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2011 season 74-88.
“There’s a lot of frustration that builds up when we don’t win and that’s where we are as a team right now,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re going to have to play our way out of it.”
Oakland is focused on staying positive with about 75 percent of the season remaining.
“We have a lot of games left which is what you have to keep in mind with the way we’ve played,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “At this point we’re definitely not where we thought we’d be. We have plenty of time to redeem ourselves.”
The Astros improved to an American League-best 27-14, giving them the best start through 41 games in franchise history. Sitting atop the AL West, this is the latest the Astros have led their division since May 22, 2004.
Keuchel (6-0) allowed six hits and no earned runs in seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.67.
“He’s got a really good sinker,” Butler said. “You don’t see that too much from the left side. Seems like when it’s halfway there, the ball’s just running from you. You have to be really selective and let it come to you.”
The game was tied in the sixth inning when Gattis sent his soaring homer into left field to make it 3-1. George Springer, who finished with two hits, singled with two outs to set up the go-ahead shot by Gattis.
Oakland starter Jesse Hahn (1-3) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings for his third consecutive loss.
Colby Rasmus drove in a run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the eighth and Chris Carter tacked on a pair with a single to shallow center in that inning.
Marwin Gonzalez doubled to start the third for Houston’s first hit. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and put the Astros up 1-0 when he scored on a single by Jake Marisnick.
A walk by Butler followed by consecutive singles by Brett Lawrie and Josh Phegley loaded the bases for Oakland with one out in the fourth inning. But Keuchel escaped the jam by retiring Mark Canha and Craig Gentry to end the inning.
Butler and Lawrie hit back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth and Butler scored on a two-out error by Carter on a ball hit by Canha to tie it at 1-all.
Eric Sogard singled to start the seventh, but Keuchel sat down the next three batters to end his day.
Athletics: OF Coco Crisp was out of the lineup on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday night’s game after the top of the fourth inning with tightness in his neck. He’s listed as day to day. ... Second baseman Ben Zobrist, on the 15-day DL with a knee injury, felt good after playing five innings in a minor league rehabilitation start. He’s scheduled to play seven innings in a second start on Wednesday. ... Starter Drew Pomeranz returned to Oakland on Wednesday to be examined after leaving Monday night’s game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left shoulder.
Astros: Brett Oberholtzer, who is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a blister on his left index finger, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and will throw another one in a few days before throwing live batting practice and possibly leaving for a rehabilitation assignment.
Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien singled on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to a career-high eight games. He’s hitting .364 during the streak.
Athletics: The A’s open a four-game series at Tampa Bay with Jesse Chavez facing Alex Colome. Chavez has alternated between the bullpen and starting this season and is 1-3 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts.
Astros: The Astros head to Detroit to open a four-game series with Scott Feldman opposing David Price. Feldman is coming off a win over Toronto when he struck out a season-high 10 batters, which were the most he fanned since a career-high 12 on May 1, 2013.