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Houston is the tonic that heals the Oakland wounds, yet again

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After getting swept at home by the Texas Rangers earlier this week, the Oakland Athletics have won two straight on the road in Houston against the lowly Astros to once again regain the American League West division lead.

Nothing fixes an Oakland slump like a series against the Houston Astros: after going 15-4 against the 'Stros in 2013, the A's are now 5-0 against them in 2014.

Friday's game was perhaps the saddest example of all, in terms of how poor Houston is cursed against Oakland -- after spotting the A's a 4-0 lead early, the Astros came back to tie the game at 5-5. But in the ninth inning, the beleaguered Houston bullpen gave up seven runs to lose the game, 12-5.

So at 15-8, Oakland is once again atop the AL West and the entire league, thanks to a Texas loss. The A's also won, 10-1, on Thursday night in Houston, by the way.

(However, the Astros are currently leading the A's, 3-2, in the fourth inning tonight.)

Not including tonight's partial contest, Oakland has outscored Houston, 41-13, in the five complete games so far between the teams in 2014: it doesn't get much uglier than that.

Thursday's game featured another stellar effort from starter Scott Kazmir, who threw six innings and gave up just five hits, one run and two walks -- while striking out seven Astros. Meanwhile, on defense, Houston made a whopping five errors which strangely cost them no runs on the scoreboard (but certainly took their toll on the Astros ball club).

Friday night proved Oakland starter Jesse Chavez human after all, as he was roughed up for the first time in 2014 in his five starts so far: he surrendered four earned run in five innings on eight hits, even though he still punched out five batters in the process.

Luke Gregerson got his first win of his A's career by pitching a scoreless eighth, and Josh Donaldson capped off the scoring in the ninth with his third home run in two games. The Oakland third baseman now has seven HRs and 20 RBI this year, proving that 2013 was no fluke.

Today, it's Dan Straily (1-1, 5.40) versus Luke Keuchel (1-1, 3.38). If the A's starter cannot keep the ball down, however, he's going to find himself back in the minors to work on his delivery: he's given up five home runs in his four starts this year already.

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