Astros-Athletics Preview

The Houston Astros have been stymied by the Oakland Athletics' starting pitchers in two straight games.

Chris Bassitt will make it three in a row if he duplicates his latest effort on Sunday.

Coming off his best outing of the season, Bassitt will attempt to pitch the A's to a series win over a slumping Astros team that continues to scuffle offensively on its current road trip.

After hitting three home runs in a 12-9 loss to Texas that began this nine-game trek, the Astros have scored 13 runs while batting .185 in losing four of their next five. They've managed just three runs in 23 innings against Oakland starters while dropping two of the first three games of this series.

Sonny Gray allowed a run and five hits in a complete game to help the A's (50-62) win Friday, and Jesse Chavez followed with seven innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 2-1 triumph.

Bassitt (1-4, 2.64 ERA) delivered an outstanding performance of his own Tuesday against Baltimore, scattering five hits across seven scoreless innings to record his second major league win.

The rookie right-hander has posted a 2.43 ERA in six 2015 starts but previously had little to show for it, receiving only five runs of support while losing four of the first five.

"Since he's been in the rotation, you see each and every time he's out there he's more and more confident," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's on a roll."

Bassitt's lone prior meeting with the Astros came in relief on April 25, when he allowed one earned run in 4 1-3 innings.

Houston (61-51), which has now lost 13 of 15 on the road, has been plagued by slumps throughout the lineup. Recent addition Carlos Gomez is 1 for 15 over the last four games, Evan Gattis is 0 for 11 in the series and Colby Rasmus 2 for 12.

Jose Altuve did go 2 for 5 Saturday to extend his hitting streak at Coliseum to 19 games, the longest active streak at the venue.

Mike Fiers makes his first start for Houston since being obtained along with Gomez from Milwaukee for four prospects July 30. The right-hander made his Astros debut in relief Monday in Texas, surrendering six runs in five innings.

Fiers, who went 5-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers, lost his final two starts with Milwaukee but was solid in his last, yielding two runs and four hits over six-plus innings in a 5-0 defeat at San Francisco July 29. He has never previously faced Oakland.

"I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and go out there and start like I've been doing all year, being aggressive in the zone and making them swing the bats," Fiers told MLB's official website. "I'll try to go as deep as possible and put up as many zeros as possible."

Danny Valencia drove in both A's runs on Saturday with a first-inning double and is 5 of 12 with a homer and three RBIs in three games since being claimed off waivers from Toronto on Monday. Marcus Semien has been swinging a hot bat as well, hitting .400 with two homers and six RBIs in eight August games.

Coco Crisp, hitting .082 in 61 at-bats this season, exited Saturday's game after two innings due to illness but is expected to return for the series finale.

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