(SportsNetwork.com) - The top two clubs in the American League West collide Friday night, as the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics commence a three- game set at O.co Coliseum.
The Astros lead the division by a game ahead of the Athletics and won two of three meetings against the Seattle Mariners to open a nine-game trek. They were going for a sweep and a fifth straight win on Wednesday, but dropped a 3-2 decision at Safeco Field.
Roberto Hernandez pitched well in the start and allowed all three runs and six hits in seven innings of work.
"I was really happy to make it all the way to the seventh and kept the ball down," Hernandez said. "That's the main thing."
Chris Carter homered for the first time this season, Jed Lowrie added three hits and Jose Altuve went 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Astros, who had won five of the previous six games.
Houston, which is scheduled to visit San Diego for three games on this junket, will hand the ball to undefeated Dallas Keuchel Friday night. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 0.90 earned run average and fired six shutout innings of two-hit ball in a 4-0 win over the LA Angels on Saturday.
Keuchel has allowed only two runs this season and they came during a 6-4 win at Texas on April 12. The Astros are 3-0 when Keuchel takes the hill. He has faced the Athletics nine times (7 starts) in his career and is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA. Keuchel has thrown 10 straight quality starts dating back to 2014, going 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA in that span.
Wandy Rodriguez did it 13 straight times from July 25 to Sept. 28, 2010.
Keuchel has tossed at least seven innings in 11 of his last 14 starts dating back to July 25 of last season.
The Athletics went 5-5 on a recent road trip, which concluded with a four-game split against the LA Angels. The A's will now play six in a row at home versus the Astros and Angels.
Oakland has alternated results over the past seven games and dropped a 2-0 decision in Anaheim on Thursday, as Kole Calhoun belted a two-run homer off Jesse Chavez in the third inning to provide the scoring. That was the only mistake made by Chavez, who gave up one earned run in six innings.
"Jesse was great," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "We expected a lot out of him. He gives up one hit, you can't ask much more out of him."
Calhoun's big blast was the only hit for the Angels, while Eric Sogard and Marcus Semien both went 2-for-4 for the A's, who recorded eight hits.
Scott Kazmir draws the start for the Athletics Friday and is 2-0 with a 1.33 earned run average in three starts. He won his first two outings against Texas and Houston, and did not record a decision in Sunday's 4-2 loss at Kansas City, where he yielded two runs in 7 1/3 innings.
In an 8-1 pounding of the Astros on April 13, Kazmir delivered six innings of one-run ball and eight strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in eight career starts against Houston.
The left-handed Kazmir is 6-0 with a 1.84 ERA in nine starts in April over the last two years.
Oakland won two of three meetings with Houston from April 13-15.