David J. Phillip
May 20, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) A combination of home runs and solid starting pitching has helped the Houston Astros get off to the best 40-game start in franchise history.

Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus each hit two-run homers, Roberto Hernandez pitched six strong innings, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-4 on Tuesday night.

Houston improved to 26-14 for the team's best start and the best record in the American League this season.

''I hope we do it for four more months,'' Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I was really, really happy with our approach on a tough night against a tough pitcher, and I think that set us up later in the game obviously to get into their bullpen.''

Carter hit his homer off the facade in left in the second to give Houston a 2-0 lead, and Rasmus launched his homer to right in the eighth to extend the Astros' advantage to 5-2.

Two batters after Rasmus, Jason Castro added a solo home run to right.

Hernandez (2-3) gave up two runs and seven hits with three strikeouts for his first win in four starts. He has gone at least six innings in each of his last seven starts.

''I'm very happy pitching this way,'' Hernandez said through a translator. ''I hope to continue to stay in the game as long as I can.''

Pat Neshek got the final out for his first save.

Houston has a major league-leading 60 homers and improved to 17-0 when it hits multiple homers.

''It's good to see us hit some home runs and score on Sonny (Gray),'' Evan Gattis said. ''To get the lead on him with (Carter)'s home run was huge then keeping it on him.''

After Josh Reddick's RBI double in the third sliced Houston's lead in half, Gattis had an RBI single in the fifth to restore the Astros' two-run lead.

Max Muncy had a solo home run in the sixth to cut it to 3-2.

Brett Lawrie had three hits, including an RBI single in the ninth to pull the A's to 6-3. Mark Canha followed by grounding into a double play, scoring Muncy. After Luke Gregerson walked Eric Sogard, Neshek struck out Billy Burns to end it.

Oakland has lost five of its last six games.

Gray (4-2) lost his second straight outing, allowing three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts in five innings. It was the second time in nine starts Gray has allowed three or more runs.

''Yeah stuff was OK, fastball wasn't great,'' Gray said. ''Left a few balls up and that was it.''

Oakland had two chances in the second to get on the board, but had runners thrown out at home both times.

With one out, Lawrie doubled to center, and Muncy headed home. Jonathan Villar's relay throw to the plate just got Muncy. On the next play, Sam Fuld grounded out to Chris Carter, who tossed the ball to Hernandez to cover first base, but Fuld beat Hernandez to the bag. Lawrie headed home, and Hernandez's throw to Castro at the plate was just in time to get Lawrie. After a lengthy review, the play stood.

''Both guys thought they were safe,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ''Apparently they weren't on replay. The second one was probably real close. ''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: Drew Pomeranz will return to Oakland on Wednesday to be examined after leaving Monday night's game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left shoulder. Melvin said they'll make a decision on his status on Wednesday, but ''there's a chance he could go on the DL.'' ... RHP Jarrod Parker underwent successful right elbow surgery Tuesday. Parker's previous revised ulnar collateral ligament did not need repairing and the avulsed medial epicondyle fracture was cleaned up and repaired. ... OF Coco Crisp left the game after the top of the fourth inning with neck tightness.

Astros: Brett Oberholtzer, who is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a blister on his left index finger, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and will throw another one in a few days before possibly leaving for a rehabilitation assignment.

ON DECK

Athletics: RHP Jess Hahn (1-3) starts the finale of the three-game series. Oakland is 1-6 in Hahn's seven starts.

Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-0) has won seven consecutive decisions.

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