Astros-Athletics Preview

Stellar play at home is a big reason Houston sits atop the AL West. But if the Astros can't turn things around on the road, they may not be there for much longer.

Looking to avoid a sixth consecutive road defeat, the Astros try to get back on track Thursday night at Oakland, where they managed to sweep the Athletics earlier this season.

Houston's 38-18 home mark is the best in the AL but it's 22-31 on the road, where it has dropped seven consecutive series and has averaged 2.3 runs and batted .194 while losing 11 of the last 12. The Astros opened a nine-game trip by losing three straight at Texas, totaling 10 hits in the final two games of the series.

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Though the Astros' division lead was cut to two games after Wednesday's 4-3 loss, manager A.J. Hinch won't knock his team's effort, especially after trailing 3-0 in the first inning of the finale.

"I'm proud of our guys," Hinch, whose club has lost 28 of the last 38 on the road, told MLB's official website. "We fought; we battled; we played hard; the effort's there."

All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve went 0 for 4 on Wednesday, and is 2 for 18 in the last four away from Minute Maid Park. However, he's batting .361 while hitting safely in 21 of his 22 career games at Oakland (48-61), where the Astros have won their last four and scored 21 runs during a three-game sweep April 24-26.

Scott Feldman (4-5, 4.58 ERA) gave up eight runs in five innings of an 8-1 home defeat to the A's on April 13, then 12 days later yielded three in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-3 victory at Oakland.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts since missing almost two months with a knee injury. However, his best start of that stretch and the season came on the road July 25 when he yielded a run and four hits over 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1, 10-inning defeat at Kansas City.

Sitting 3-4 on an 11-game home stay, the A's counter with Aaron Brooks (1-0, 3.09).

The right-hander earned a spot in the rotation after allowing a home run, four other hits and striking out five without a walk in 7 1-3 innings of Saturday's 5-1 victory over Cleveland. It was Brooks' second career start and first appearance since the A's acquired him in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City.

''He deserves to (have a spot in the rotation),'' manager Bob Melvin said. ''It would have been pretty tough to send him down after that.

"We want to take a look at our young guys, some of the guys that we traded for. We wanted to see how he reacted to pitching at the big league level."

Coco Crisp is 7 for 20 (.350) against Feldman, and went 3 for 8 during this week's three-game set with Baltimore in his return from missing almost three months with a cervical strain.

Teammate Josh Reddick is 0 for 11 in the last four games but is batting .304 with two doubles and three home runs while facing Feldman.