McHugh Ks 11 in Astros' 6-1 win over Athletics
HOUSTON (AP) Houston Astros starter Collin McHugh pumped his fists and cheered as he walked off the field.
It didn't matter that it was just the end of the first inning of a game in April. McHugh had just struck out the side against one of baseball's hottest offenses. He wasn't ready to let his team be swept in the three-game series.
''It's a big game,'' McHugh said. ''I was pumped up. I was excited.''
McHugh struck out 11, and Jed Lowrie hit one of the Astros' three homers in a 6-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
Luis Valbuena and Evan Gattis also homered for the Astros, who matched their season high in scoring.
Houston's bats are finally starting to show signs of life after being held to two runs or less in six of their first eight games.
The A's have been outscored 32-14 in their five losses, compared to a 42-1 margin in their five wins.
''We've had a couple of games where we haven't scored and given up some runs,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''But overall, I still think we have some quality.''
McHugh (2-0) allowed six hits and one run in 5 2-3 innings. McHugh is the only Astros starter to earn a win since Dallas Keuchel's opening-day victory. McHugh extended his winning streak to nine, the longest for an Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt in 2006-2007.
McHugh was relieved by Tony Sipp with two outs in the sixth after Ike Davis doubled.
Oakland starter Drew Pomeranz (1-1) followed his masterful two-hit, seven-inning performance against Seattle by allowing four runs and six hits in five innings.
''It's pretty frustrating,'' Pomeranz said. ''They got hits at the right time, and they took advantage of them.''
The Astros hit Pomeranz hard early, with Jose Altuve leading off with a 400-foot double to left-center, and Lowrie following with a two-run homer off the train tracks above the left-field fence.
''He really didn't pitch bad,'' Melvin said. ''We just didn't score any runs for him.''
Oakland picked up a run in the second inning when Marcus Semien beat out a close play for an infield single with the bases loaded. Semien's hit was the fourth Oakland single in the inning, scoring Billy Butler.
Lowrie had an RBI double in the third inning, and Altuve added a run-scoring single in the fifth to make it 4-1.
Facing the team he spent the past two seasons with, Lowrie was hit by a pitch on Tuesday and joked with players and coaches before Wednesday's game about potential retaliation.
''It was all in jest,'' Lowrie said before admitting that beating his former team feels extra special. ''When you know most of the guys over there, you want to beat them. I know all those guys feel the same way.''
Valbuena gave Houston a 5-1 lead with a homer into the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Gattis' 421-foot homer to deep left-center in the eighth inning was his first as an Astro and was just his third hit in 33 at-bats this season. The homer boosted his average to .094.
''It was pretty exciting when he got back to the dugout,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''Everyone in that clubhouse knows how much he's grinding to try to break out. So maybe this is a sign of things to come. He certainly takes every at-bat as if it's his last at-bat.''
Butler extended his hitting streak to an American League-leading 10 games. Butler became the first player in club history to get a hit in his first 10 games as an Athletic. On Friday, Butler returns to Kansas City, where he spent the first eight years of his career.
Athletics: IF-OF Ben Zobrist was held from the starting lineup Wednesday with a bruised right heel. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Zobrist felt lingering soreness from a defensive play earlier in the week. Melvin said Zobrist was available to play and expected him to return to the starting lineup on Friday in Kansas City. ... LHP closer Sean Doolittle is making progress in his rehab throwing program, Melvin said. Doolittle played long toss from 105 to 120 feet on Tuesday with no pain. Doolittle (slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder) is expected to miss the first month of the season.
Astros: Houston reliever Josh Fields (groin) made his third rehab appearance Tuesday night for Triple-A Fresno, tossing one scoreless inning with one strikeout. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Fields will throw at least one more game on his rehab assignment before returning to the Astros.
Athletics: Right-hander Sonny Gray (1-0) will start for Oakland on Friday. Gray has allowed just one earned run in 15 1-3 innings in his first two starts and is 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in seven career starts in April.
Astros: Right-hander Roberto Hernandez (0-1) will take the mound against the Los Angeles Angels. The 34-year-old gave up five runs, one earned, on five hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings in his Astros debut at Texas.