The Oakland Athletics attempt to pad their lead in the American League West on Monday when they open a three-game set with the Houston Astros at O.co Coliseum.
The A's have a one-game lead over Texas in the division, although they are coming off two straight losses against Detroit over the weekend. The back-to- back losses came on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Brett Anderson gave up seven runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings in Saturday's 7-3 loss, and Jarrod Parker was tagged for eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings during Sunday's 10-1 setback.
Houston has also lost two straight. The Astros fell to the Angels on Sunday, 4-1, despite seven strong innings from starter Philip Humber, who allowed just one earned run. Humber is winless through three starts but boasts a 2.89 ERA, as the offense has scored only one run while he's pitched.
"As a pitcher, you can't control wins and losses," Humber said. "Our job is to go out there and give our team a chance to win when it's our turn. There's going to be times when they pick me up and I don't deserve to win and I do. That's happened a lot in the past. You just keep doing your job. Everyone's doing their best and we're going to put some wins together before too long."
The Astros will be making their first West Coast road trip as an AL West member. In fact, this marks their first trip to Oakland since 2002.
Left-hander Erik Bedard is next up for a Houston pitching rotation that has posted a solid 3.26 ERA through its first 12 games. Through one start and one relief appearance this season, Bedard has not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings. He has yielded only two hits in that span. In his last five starts against the A's, Bedard has gone 4-0 with a 0.55 ERA.
"It all starts with the starting pitcher," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We've had good starts throughout the season. If we continue that, there's going to be waves where our offense picks it up and there's going to be waves we fall a little short. But if the pitching can keep us in games, which is what's happened so far, we have a chance to surprise people."
Meanwhile, Oakland will turn to Tommy Milone, who has won each of his first two starts. After yielding only two runs on four hits in his first outing of the season, Milone was charged with four runs on seven hits against the Angels on Wednesday. He'll look to go deeper than the five innings he lasted in that game.
These teams met up in Houston from April 5-7, as Oakland earned a three-game sweep after outscoring the Astros, 23-9, behind seven homers.
All players on both teams will take part in the league-wide Jackie Robinson tribute by wearing No. 42.