OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The day started with the Oakland Athletics putting one of their most important hitters in Ben Zobrist on the disabled list with a knee injury that will sideline him for at least a month.
Things didn’t get any better once the game started.
Kendall Graveman put Oakland in an early hole in another short start and the A’s lost their third straight game, 9-3 to the Houston Astros on Saturday.
Josh Reddick and Cody Ross dropped fly balls for errors and the offense didn’t score until the seventh inning as the A’s (8-11) fell three games under .500 for the first time since July 2012.
“We’re not playing very well here in the last five games or so,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Even before that, we’d lose some close games but we were getting consistent at-bats, we were getting on-base, we were swinging the bats well. At this point, we’re not doing anything too terribly right.”
The Astros (10-7) have won six of seven and are off to their best start since winning 12 of 17 games to open the 2006 season. Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and extended his hitting streak against Oakland to 28 games.
“It was obvious we were going to play really good,” Altuve said. “That’s what we’re doing right now. Everybody is supporting each other. We’re hitting, we’re pitching. We’re a really good team right now.”
Jed Lowrie drove in two runs for Houston, and George Springer homered. Scott Feldman (2-2) allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Oakland’s Kendall Graveman (1-2) allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings. It was the third time in four starts that he failed to complete five innings.
Graveman has been unable to convert a stellar spring into a strong start to his first season in Oakland.
“I think it’s all mechanical stuff,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tough to make adjustments. You feel fine, you feel good, your body feels good and the ball’s just not coming out, you’re not throwing the ball out front with consistency.”
Altuve led off the game with a single, taking little time to tie David Segui for the second-longest hitting streak ever against the A’s, according to information provided by the Astros from the Elias Sports Bureau. Luke Appling had a 31-game streak in 1939-40.
Altuve then was caught stealing on a pickoff throw from Graveman, but the Astros still got a run in the inning on Lowrie’s RBI double that Sam Fuld dropped after a long run to the warning track in center field.
Altuve delivered again his second time up, belting his second homer of the season to make it 4-0 in the second.
Lowrie added an RBI single off Graveman in the fifth.
Eric Sogard hit a two-run triple in a three-run seventh for Oakland.
Astros: OF Jake Marisnick sat for a second straight for the second straight day with a sore right leg.
Athletics: Zobrist will need arthroscopic surgery and likely be sidelined for four to six weeks because of torn cartilage in his left knee. Max Muncy was promoted from Triple-A Nashville and started at 3B. … RHP Jesse Hahn is expected to throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday to test a blister on his right middle finger and could get back in the rotation on Wednesday against the Angels.
Chris Bassitt made his Oakland debut in relief of Graveman with runners on first and third and two outs in the fifth. Bassitt threw a wild pitch on his first delivery to allow Lowrie to score Houston’s sixth run. Bassitt then hit Chris Carter with a pitch before getting out of the inning.
Muncy had a better debut. He singled in the seventh for his first career hit after traveling all morning.
Astros: Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) will start the series finale as the Astros try to complete their first series sweep ever against the A’s.
Athletics: Drew Pomeranz (1-2) will look for his first win against Houston. Pomeranz is 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in four career appearances, including three starts, against the Astros.
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