- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Making his first start of the season while working on three days of rest, Houston pitcher Brad Peacock knew he was on a short leash.

The way the Astros have been shut down at the plate lately, it wouldn’t have mattered how long the right-hander stuck around.

Peacock allowed two runs over five mostly strong innings but the Astros managed just five hits and failed to score more than one run for the seventh time this season in a 4-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

“I knew I was going to be on a pitch limit so I just tried to get to five innings,” said Peacock, who struck out four and walked three after beginning the season in the bullpen.

“I was battling all game and I had all my stuff today. That’s all you can ask for.”

A little more offense wouldn’t hurt.

A day after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth, the Astros fell behind early and couldn’t catch up.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo home run in the fourth but Houston managed just one hit the rest of the way, an infield single by Dexter Fowler in the seventh.

“We got into situations where we in position to push runs across and wasn’t able to come up with the big hit,” said manager Bo Porter following Houston’s seventh straight loss. “We have an underperforming team right now, and when you underperform and make the mistakes that we make, this is going to be the result.”

Josh Donaldson homered and doubled twice while Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard added two hits apiece for the A’s, who completed the series sweep and have won 11 of 13.

Jesse Chavez (1-0) allowed four hits over six innings and retired seven of the final eight batters he faced after giving up a solo home run to Gonzalez in the fourth. Chavez struck out three and walked one to lower his team-leading ERA to 1.38 through four starts.

“I was rushing a little bit early on in the game and that’s not me,” Chavez said. “I need to slow things down and take it pitch by pitch. That’s pretty much what happened after that.”

Donaldson hit a two-run home run off Peacock in the first and added an RBI double in the seventh. He also had a two-out double in the fifth.

The Astros tried to get to Chavez early.

Three of Houston’s first four batters reached base before Oakland’s young right-hander settled down. After catcher John Jaso threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal third, Chavez got Marc Krauss to fly out.

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