Astros try to avoid sweep in Oakland

Bud Norris tries to continue his strong start to the season on Wednesday, as the Houston Astros attempt to salvage the finale of their three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum.

Norris bounced back from a loss to Oakland in Anaheim on Friday, as he held the Angels to three hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 2-1, while lowering his ERA to 1.96.

Dating back to last season Norris is 4-1 with a 1.14 ERA over his last five starts. Of course, that one loss was against the A's two starts ago when he surrendered five runs (2 earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

Last year, Norris was 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA in 18 starts away from home.

Oakland, meanwhile, will pin its hopes on veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA. Colon did not get a decision against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, as he allowed three runs - all on a Prince Fielder home run - and eight hits in seven innings. He also struck out five without walking a batter.

"The whole game I felt good except for that one inning," Colon said. "I was supposed to throw it to a different spot and I didn't get it there."

Colon beat the Astros in his first start of the year and is 4-2 lifetime against them with a 3.66 ERA in seven starts.

Oakland moved to the brink of sweeping the Astros on Tuesday, as Josh Donaldson's two-out triple in the eighth inning plated Josh Reddick to give the Athletics a 4-3 win.

After Reddick drew a two-out walk, Donaldson lifted a 3-2 offering high down the right field line. Astros right fielder Rick Ankiel made a play on the ball but it landed inches from foul territory.

"Can't defend a ball that lands in fair territory by two or three inches," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "Fortunate for them, the ball landed in fair territory and its a triple and an RBI."

Grant Balfour shut the door in the ninth for his second save of the season.

Eric Sogard went 3-for-3 and finished a home run shy of the cycle for Oakland, which has won 11 of 13 after dropping its first two games of the season.

"The staff and everyone here takes pride in playing good defense," said Donaldson. "We want to be back there for our pitchers."

A.J. Griffin struck out eight and allowed two runs in six innings of work for the Athletics. Sean Doolittle (1-0), who allowed a game-tying home run to Carlos Pena in the top of the eighth inning, picked up the win.

Rhiner Cruz (0-1) was on the hill for Donaldson's game-winner.

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.