Athletics-Astros Preview

With a lengthy skid finally in the past, the Houston Astros hope they remember how to string together some victories.

They can start by trying to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than three weeks Sunday against the visiting Oakland Athletics.

Mired in a five-game losing streak and trailing by a run in the seventh inning Saturday, Evan Gattis belted a three-run homer on his own bobblehead night to highlight Houston's 10-6 victory.

"It woke everybody up," manager A.J. Hinch told MLB's official website. "It put a lot of belief that we remember how to win games like this."

It was the third win in the last 12 games for the Astros (78-71), who lost their lead atop the AL West earlier this week and sit 2 1/2 games behind first-place Texas.

"It feels hard to win a big-league game," said Hinch, whose club broke out after totaling 16 runs in the previous five games.

Gattis, who has set career highs with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs, is batting .350 with two and eight RBIs in the last five contests.

"I'm 1 for 2 hitting home runs on my bobblehead day so I've got that going for me," he joked.

While Houston holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild-card spot, it hasn't won consecutive games since beating the New York Yankees on Aug. 25-26.

The Astros also look to see improvement from Collin McHugh (16-7, 4.05 ERA), who is 3-0 in his last four starts but allowed five runs and homers to Billy Butler and Josh Reddick over 5 1-3 innings of an 11-5 victory at Oakland on Sept. 9. The right-hander followed by giving up five more runs in 3 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 6-5 loss at Texas.

However, there might not be too much concern considering those two outings came on the road and McHugh is 2-1 with an 0.94 ERA in his last four starts at home. He's posted a 1.26 ERA while winning both of his home starts against the A's (64-85).

Aaron Brooks (2-3, 7.68) opposed McHugh last week but hopes for a better effort this time after he allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings of that contest. That performance was the second of a rough three-start stretch in which the rookie right-hander is 1-2 with a 12.47 ERA.

Brooks yielded six runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings Tuesday, but benefited from plenty of run support during a 17-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"It's fun when you get that many runs," he said after recording his first career road victory.

Jose Altuve is 3 for 6 with two doubles against Brooks, and is batting .357 with six doubles in the last 10 games.

Teammate Carlos Gomez has missed seven straight games while day to day with rib discomfort.

"We have to be careful, because this could be simple or it could be really bad," said the All-Star center fielder, who has hit .306 with three homers in his last 16 games.

Oakland's Jake Smolinski has hit half of his six home runs this season while recording six RBIs in the last five games.

Marcus Semien, who also homered Saturday, is 4 for 7 against McHugh.

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