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A's continue dominance of Astros with 11-3 win, lead AL West by 1.5 games

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(OAKLAND) -- When it comes to beating up the lowly Houston Astros, the 2014 Oakland Athletics are picking up right where they left off last season.

The A's beat the Astros, 11-3, on Friday night at the O.co Coliseum, hitting four home runs overall after scoring seven runs in the first inning alone. Oakland hitters tallied 10 hits and 10 walks off Houston pitching on the evening.

With their 11-5 record on the young season, the A's have the best record in the American League and a 1.5-game lead on the Texas Rangers in the AL West division. It's early, but it's still better to be out in the lead right now than behind in the standings.

After winning 15 of 19 games against Houston in 2013, the Astros' first in the AL West division after decades in the National League, the A's clearly didn't take their division opponents lightly the first time out in 2014.

Sonny Gray wasn't super sharp this time out, but he gave up just three runs on nine hits in his six innings of work -- which included two walks and only four strikeouts -- to push his record to 3-0 this year. Meanwhile, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp hit home runs for the A's to easily back their starter.

Today, the two teams go at it again, with Scott Kazmir looking to match Gray's 3-0 start to the 2014 season with one of his own. The lefty is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA this year in his three starts previous, with 19 strikeouts.

Houston sends their own lefty, Brett Oberholtzer, to the mound with his 0-3 record, albeit with a good 3.50 ERA and 15 strikeouts so far this season. The Astros are just 5-12 this year, but after a 3-4 start to the season, they've lost eight of their last ten games.

Game time at the O.co Coliseum is 1:05 p.m., and it's also Josh Donaldson Bobblehead Day in Oakland, so expect the house to be quite full of energetic A's fans looking to see their team beat Houston again.

Overall, the home team is just 4-3 in front of its own fans this year, after the odd opening week of the season that saw funky weather postpone two games and new-addition Jim Johnson lose two others. But a 7-2 road trip through Minnesota, Seattle and Los Angeles helped launch the A's to the top of the American League.

And they hope to stay there for quite some time; playing the Astros a lot clearly helps.

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