Athletics-Astros Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 04, 2013
After getting plenty of production to win their AL debut, the Houston Astros have struggled to generate any kind of offense. The Oakland Athletics' bats have awaken after a quiet start. In danger of being shut out in three straight games for the first time in almost 28 years, the Astros look to avoid a third consecutive loss while trying to prevent the visiting A's from winning their third in a row Friday night. Houston (1-2) had nine hits in an 8-2 season-opening victory over Texas on Sunday but was held to seven while being outscored 11-0 in the final two games of the set. Yu Darvish came within one out of pitching a perfect game before the Astros mustered two hits in Tuesday's 7-0 loss. The Astros, who last failed to score in three straight games July 14-19, 1985, struck out a remarkable 43 times and managed four walks against the Rangers. "Just a couple of rough games. You just leave it at that," said veteran Carlos Pena, who is 2 for 11 with six strikeouts. "We weren't facing easy ... pitchers." Pena had one of the Astros' five hits in Wednesday's 4-0 loss. Houston has dropped five of six all-time meetings with Oakland (2-2), but the new AL West rivals have not met since 2007. However, they have some recent history. The A's traded first baseman Chris Carter, Friday's scheduled starter Brad Peacock and a minor leaguer to Houston for shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Fernando Rodriguez during the offseason. On Thursday, the Astros acquired left-hander Travis Blackley from Oakland for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert. Carter, who had 19 homers and 46 RBIs in 106 games with the A's the past three seasons, is 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts for Houston. Peacock, who was acquired from Washington as part of the Gio Gonzalez deal in 2011, spent all of last season with the A's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. The right-hander won both career starts for the Nationals in 2011, allowing three hits over 10 2-3 scoreless innings. "I've been waiting for this day for a long time, and I'm ready to get going," Peacock told the Astros' official website. "I felt like it's been forever since I've been out there. Just getting back on the mound - I want to have a good game - and I get to see all my buddies from Oakland. It should be fun." He'll face an Oakland lineup that recorded 14 runs and 21 hits in winning two straight over Seattle after producing one run and six hits in the first two of the series. "I feel like we weren't the team we know we can be," said right fielder Josh Reddick, who went 0 for 10 in the first three games before going 2 for 3 with a homer and four RBIs in the finale. "We kind of really woke up (Wednesday) and (Thursday). To split the series is good for us, and just have a happy flight going to Houston with a little bit of confidence on our side." Lowrie, who hit .244 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs in 97 games with Houston in 2012, went 6 for 13 with a home run and three RBIs against the Mariners. The A's hand the ball to Dan Straily, who went 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA last season. The right-hander, though, allowed 11 home runs in seven starts after making his major league debut Aug. 3.
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