Published July 24, 2013
| Sports Network
Right-hander Bud Norris can make it two straight wins for Houston against Oakland on Wednesday night when the Astros host the Athletics at Minute Maid Park in the finale of a three-game series.
Houston ended a 12-game losing skid against the Athletics in the series' middle game on Tuesday night, when Oakland's Grant Balfour served up the tying two-run homer to Matt Dominguez and Jonathan Villar scored on Derek Norris' throwing error later in the ninth as the Astros shocked the A's, 5-4.
Balfour had converted his last 44 save chances, an Oakland record, including all 26 this season, but Dominguez crushed the tying homer to left-center field with no outs.
Balfour, who committed an error that allowed Justin Maxwell to reach second on a single to start the ninth, suffered his first blown save since April 29, 2012 at Baltimore.
"I just didn't luck out tonight," Balfour said. "It got a little bit ugly and I didn't make pitches and put away guys."
Villar doubled to left with one out. Jose Altuve walked and he slipped between first and second when a pitch got away from Norris. The catcher recovered, but his throw to first baseman Brandon Moss was wide. By the time Moss recovered to throw home it was too late as Villar crossed the plate to end Houston's six-game slide.
Oakland lost for just the second time in the 17 all-time meetings with Houston.
Norris, who turned 28 in March, won seven games in 29 starts for the Astros last season - their last in the National League.
He began his first season as an American League starter with five wins in his initial nine decisions, but has since won just once in eight starts while dropping five games.
He was beaten, 10-7, by Seattle in his last outing on July 19, when he allowed six runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings while walking four batters and striking out just two.
His lone win in the last eight appearances was July 3 against Tampa Bay, when he gave up a single run in seven innings of the Astros' 4-1 triumph.
Norris is 0-2 in his career against Oakland.
The Athletics counter with second-year righty A.J. Griffin, who established a career-high for wins two starts ago against Boston.
The 25-year-old won seven times in 15 starts with Oakland as a rookie in 2012, then got to eight wins in 2013 with a 3-0 defeat of the Red Sox on July 13 at home, where he allowed six hits in eight scoreless innings.
He was beaten, 4-1, by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in one start since, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings.
Griffin is 1-0 against Houston in two career meetings.