Kazmir threw seven scoreless innings, but Houston starter Dallas Keuchel did him one better, going nine without giving up a run.
''He pitched well and kept our guys at bay,'' Kazmir said. ''I was hoping to match it. We made a nice comeback but didn't pull off the win and that's tough.''
Kazmir has won all six of his April decisions the past two years and has a 1.65 ERA over that span.
''It's a shame he doesn't have a couple more wins,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''Every time he goes out there we feel like we have a chance to win, even when we're not scoring a lot of runs. We didn't do anything while he was in there.''
The Astros scored three times in the top of the 11th and it still looked as though the A's had a chance to tie or win in the bottom half when Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer with no outs.
Ike Davis followed with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That's where he stayed as three Astros relievers were needed to finish the job.
''Exploding late in the game was a good sign,'' A's outfielder Josh Reddick said. ''It's a sign that hopefully the offense is picking up.''
Reddick took a calculated risk after driving in two runs to tie it in the 10th. He saw the ball squirt away from Hank Conger and tried to score from third. He was tagged out to end the inning.
''At first I was trying to draw a throw to third to make sure we scored the tying run,'' Reddick said. ''When I saw the ball get away, I figured why not try it.''
Luke Gregerson (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the 10th.
Kazmir, who beat the Astros 11 days earlier, gave up five hits and walked three with a season-high seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Altuve singled three times to extend his hitting streak against the A's to 27 games. It's the longest hitting streak by any Houston player against one team.
Astros: RHP Josh Fields was officially activated from the disabled list, though the move had been announced earlier this week. ... Because Houston won't get another off day until May 11, manager A.J. Hinch said the team will continue to carry 13 pitchers. ... OF Jake Marisnick was kept out of the starting lineup because of leg soreness he had while running from first to third against Seattle on Wednesday.
Athletics: Closer Sean Doolittle threw 15 pitches on flat ground and hopes to increase to 20 on Sunday. He is working his way back from a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder. ... OF Coco Crisp (elbow) took dry swings and played catch but there is still no timetable for his return. ... RHP Jarrod Parker gave up three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings for Single-A Stockton on Thursday. Parker, who is on the mend from elbow surgery, will make another rehab start Tuesday.
Astros: RHP Scott Feldman (1-2) is the first Houston pitcher since 2008 to go at least five innings and allow one walk or fewer in his first three starts of the season.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1) has made it out of the fourth inning only once this year - when he went 5 1-3 innings to beat the Astros on April 14.