Lowrie leads A's past Astros

Jed Lowrie clubbed a solo home run among his three hits to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros in the middle test of a three-game set Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Coco Crisp and Seth Smith each smacked solo shot as well, while Bartolo Colon surrendered three runs over six solid innings for the A's, who have won four straight, including an 8-3 decision in Friday's series opener.

Colon (1-0), making his first start since a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone ended his 2012 campaign prematurely, scattered eight hits and fanned two without issuing a walk.

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook each spun a perfect inning in relief before Grant Balfour retired the Astros in order in the ninth to record his first save of the season.

Jason Castro clubbed a three-run homer to account for the Astros' offense, while Bud Norris (1-1) allowed five runs -- two earned -- on six hits over 5 2/3 frames in Houston's fourth straight loss.

Norris held the A's hitless over the first three frames, but Oakland's first hit of the game gave the team a 1-0 lead. Crisp led off the fourth with an opposite-field blast into the short porch in left field.

Houston answered in the bottom half, as Carlos Pena and Justin Maxwell kept the inning alive with back-to-back two-out singles before Castro crushed a 1-2 fastball deep into the left-field seats to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

Oakland seized control with a four-run sixth, with Lowrie -- who hit 16 homers with the Astros in 2012 before being shipped to Oakland in the offseason -- leading off the frame with a shot into the right-field seats.

"I'm confident with my swing right now," Lowrie said. "I'm working myself into good hitters' counts, and even when I get behind, I'm not trying to do too much."

Josh Reddick then reached on shortstop Ronny Cedeno's fielding error and after Yoenis Cespedes and Smith each popped out, Brandon Moss worked a walk to keep the inning alive.

Following a brief meeting on the mound, Reddick stole third and then scored when Josh Donaldson slapped a single through the right side of the infield to tie the game.

"You are going to have to make big pitches in situations," Norris said. "I felt I made a good pitch (to Donaldson), but it found a hole."

Wesley Wright then replaced Norris but was unable to work out of the jam, as he served up back-to-back RBI singles to Derek Norris and Eric Sogard to give the A's a 5-3 cushion.

After Doolittle retired the Astros in order in the seventh, Smith scorched the second pitch of the eighth deep over the left-field fence to make it 6-3.

Cook and Balfour then blanked the Astros over the final two frames to secure the victory.

Game Notes

Houston infielder Jose Altuve finished 1-for-4 and has hit safely in each of the Astros first five games ... Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts for the A's last season and was leading Oakland in wins and ERA at the time of his ban ... Oakland's only previous trip to Houston came in an interleague series in 2007, when the A's took two of three ... Lowrie and pitcher Fernando Rodriguez were traded to Oakland on Feb. 4 in exchange for outfielder Chris Carter, pitcher Brad Peacock and minor leaguer Max Stassi.