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Preview: Astros at Athletics

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Oakland Athletics have dominated the season series with the Houston Astros, although the wins have been a lot harder to come by lately. The Astros won the opener of the four-game series and look to make it four wins in the last five meetings when the teams clash in Oakland on Friday. The Athletics, who trail first-place Texas by one-half game in the American League West, won the first 10 matchups with the Astros but dropped two of three at home last month.

Oakland needs to take advantage of its current seven-game stretch against Houston and Minnesota, which will be followed by three games in Texas. The Astros scored a total of eight runs during a five-game losing streak to close out August, but they have started to get their offense untracked, putting up 21 runs over the last four games. All-Star catcher Jason Castro has missed the last three games but reported feeling better after he had his knee drained.

TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, CSN (Houston), CSN California (Oakland)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (5-8, 4.77 ERA) vs. Athletics RH A.J. Griffin (12-9, 3.84)

Keuchel is seeking his first win since July 27, although he has turned in back-to-back strong starts by allowing three runs over 14 innings. He gave up three first-inning runs in a loss to Seattle last time out and tossed seven scoreless frames against Toronto in his previous outing. He has made four appearances (two starts) versus Oakland this season, yielding eight runs and 21 hits in 18 innings.

Griffin had his best start since the All-Star break on Sunday versus Tampa Bay, giving up one run on five hits over seven innings. He is 2-0 in three outings against the Astros this season but has allowed nine runs - five homers - in 18 frames. The long ball continues to torment Griffin, who has surrendered multiple blasts in six of his last nine starts and 33 overall for the season.

WALK-OFFS

1. Athletics CF Coco Crisp is batting .354 with four homers against Houston this year.

2. Astros 2B Jose Altuve is 11-for-22 in his last five games and 3-for-8 with a homer against Griffin.

3. Oakland C Stephen Vogt is riding an eight-game hitting streak.

PREDICTION: Athletics 4, Astros 3

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130906/preview-astros-at-athletics