OAKLAND, California — The pitching has been stellar, the lineup much deeper and the progress the Houston Astros showed in spring training has carried over to the opening month of the season.
Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and extended his hitting streak against Oakland to 28 games, helping the surging Astros beat the Athletics 9-3 on Saturday.
"It was obvious we were going to play really good," Altuve said. "That's what we're doing right now. Everybody is supporting each other. We're hitting, we're pitching. We're a really good team right now."
After losing more games than any other team the past six years, Houston has won four of six series to open the season and stands in first place in the AL West.
Jed Lowrie drove in two runs and George Springer homered for the Astros (10-7), who have won six of seven and are off to their best start since winning 12 of 17 games to open the 2006 season.
"I don't have a sense of that where we get too high, we get too low," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have a huge expectation to do well and play clean baseball. I don't think guys are looking too much into it because there are areas that we can do a lot better."
Scott Feldman (2-2) allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings to get the win.
Oakland's Kendall Graveman (1-2) allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings. It was the third time in four starts that he failed to complete five innings.
The A's (8-11) have lost three straight to fall three games under .500 for the first time since July 2012.
"We're not playing very well here in the last five games or so," manager Bob Melvin said. "Even before that, we'd lose some close games but we were getting consistent at-bats, we were getting on-base, we were swinging the bats well. At this point, we're not doing anything too terribly right."
Altuve led off the game with a single, taking little time to tie David Segui for the second-longest hitting streak ever against the A's, according to information provided by the Astros from the Elias Sports Bureau. Luke Appling had a 31-game streak in 1939-40.
"It's nothing extra special against the A's because he hits against everybody, but certainly that's a long time to play against one opponent and continue to have success," Hinch said.
Altuve then was caught stealing on a pickoff throw from Graveman, but the Astros still got a run in the inning on Lowrie's RBI double that Sam Fuld dropped after a long run to the warning track in center field.
Altuve delivered again his second time up, belting his second homer of the season to make it 4-0 in the second.
Lowrie added an RBI single off Graveman in the fifth and then scored on reliever Chris Bassitt's wild pitch.
It only got uglier from there for the A's. Right fielder Josh Reddick and left fielder Cody Ross each dropped fly balls for errors in the seventh, leading to two more Houston runs.
Eric Sogard hit a two-run triple in a three-run seventh for Oakland.
Astros: OF Jake Marisnick sat for a second straight for the second straight day with a sore right leg.
Athletics: Infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist went on the 15-day DL with torn cartilage in his left knee, and INF Max Muncy was promoted from Triple-A Nashville. Zobrist will need arthroscopic surgery and likely be sidelined for four to six weeks.
Feldman has 10 quality starts in his past 11 outings dating to last year, with the only hiccup coming in an 8-1 loss to the A's earlier this month. He allowed eight runs — seven earned — and 10 hits in five innings on April 13 before holding Oakland scoreless until the seventh in the rematch.
"I just kind of looked at what went wrong last time and tried to make an adjustment of what I could do better," he said.
Astros: Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) will start the series finale as the Astros try to complete their first series sweep ever against the A's.
Athletics: Drew Pomeranz (1-2) will look for his first win against Houston. Pomeranz is 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in four career appearances, including three starts, against the Astros.
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