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Houston hurts Oakland with weekend wins, but A's must look to Rangers now

Alberto Callaspo had the A's second and final hit on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to Houston on the road.
Alberto Callaspo had the A's second and final hit on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to Houston on the road.
Photo by Bob Levey

So much for the Houston Astros playing possum for the Oakland Athletics in 2014: the A's lost on both Saturday and Sunday to the Astros on the road, dropping them into a first-place division tie with the Texas Rangers.

After Sean Doolittle's rough outing on Saturday cost the A's a chance to win their sixth straight game against the Astros in 2014, Oakland bats were silenced on Sunday by someone named Collin McHugh: he held the A's to just two hits in 8.2 innings as Houston won, 5-1.

You're not going to win too many games when you get just two hits, of course. The A's had just five base runners total, and if it hadn't been for Alberto Callaspo's RBI double with two out in the ninth, Oakland would have been shutout on the day.

Tommy Milone took the loss for the A's to fall to 0-2 on the year. Overall, Oakland is now 15-10, having lost five of their last seven games: it was a rough week for the team, as they began it by getting swept at home by Texas and then ended it with a disappointing split in Houston that could have been worse.

And now it's on to Arlington to face the 15-10 Rangers, and the A's better not get swept again. Oakland has its three best starters lined up for this series, coincidentally, and Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez will be facing Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross, respectively.

That's no easy task for Gray and Kazmir, so the A's bats better be ready to hit in Arlington tonight and the next two days. Rangers pitching held Oakland to just seven runs in three games at the O.co Coliseum last week, including Perez' whitewashing of the A's last Wednesday.

And while the Oakland bats woke up for 22 runs against Houston on Thursday and Friday, those same bats went nearly silent for the Saturday and Sunday games. Excluding Brandon Moss' three-run home run in the ninth inning on Saturday, and the A's scored just four runs in the other 17 innings over the weekend.

Oakland was missing Yoenis Cespedes over the weekend in Houston, as he recovers from an injured heel. Getting him back against Texas would be a big boost for the A's, who are a surprisingly 26-41 without Cespedes in the lineup since 2012.

They are 179-103 with their slugging left fielder. Game time tonight is 6 p.m. PT.