A's back Anderson with long ball to top Astros
Left-hander ties career best with 10 strikeouts
HOUSTON -- It proved to be quite the productive weekend for the A's.
They took in their first trip to Houston, had three lengthy business meetings with their newest division opponents and, along the way, casually scored 23 runs.
It wasn't batting practice, but it may as well have been.
Oakland wrapped up a three-game sweep over the Astros on Sunday with a commanding 9-3 victory that featured a 10-strikeout performance by lefty Brett Anderson, tying his career high.
Suddenly, the same team that scored just one run in its first two games -- both losses -- has crossed home plate 29 times in the five consecutive wins that have followed.
"We've done everything well," said Jed Lowrie, who picked up his third three-hit day of the season. "We've pitched well, played good defense and hit well."
All sure is well in A's land, except for maybe right fielder Josh Reddick, who is day to day after spraining his right wrist in the fifth inning when he slammed into a wall while attempting to snag a ball in foul territory.
A rebuilding Houston club, meanwhile, has endured quite the eye-opening welcome to the American League West, having scored just nine runs in five straight losses since totaling eight in its first and only win a week ago against the Rangers.
Oakland has scored six or more runs in each of its wins, much thanks to the long ball. There have been 12, most in the American League, and Coco Crisp and Lowrie are responsible for half of them with three each.
Crisp hit one in every game this weekend, marking the second time -- and first since 2008 -- he's hit home runs in three straight games. The veteran also collected four doubles in the series, including one to lead off Sunday's matinee.
Oakland quickly grabbed a lead in the second against righty Lucas Harrell, who walked Brandon Moss and Chris Young and watched them both score on Seth Smith's double. Harrell proceeded to issue three more walks in the third, which was highlighted by Lowrie's opposite-field, two-run homer.
Lowrie's 3-for-5 performance against his former club lifted his batting average to an even .500, having collected 12 hits in his first 24 at-bats with his new team.
"For where you are in the season right now, it's pretty remarkable to be hitting .500, especially since he was 0-for the first game," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's very consistent from both sides of the plate, isn't trying to do too much, seeing the ball very well."
Attempting to keep up with his teammate, Crisp notched his home run in the next inning with two outs. Young simply outdid both of them with a three-run monster shot in the fifth off Harrell, who departed after the knock with his team trailing by eight.
Such a deficit is hard enough to overcome on any day, but especially when that day has Anderson on the mound.
The A's southpaw shook off two visits by a trainer after reaching for a pair of balls hit his way and put together a strong outing, allowing two unearned runs on five hits with two walks to go along with his 10 strikeouts, last achieved as a rookie in September 2009 against the Indians.
Anderson, like Reddick, was sent for X-rays upon his departure from the game. Tests on the pitchers' left thumb, which Carlos Corporan's base hit deflected off in the second inning, came back negative.
Still, Anderson was in plenty of pain after the game, and not just because of his finger. His left wrist was also hit by a ball during the game and, readying himself to speak to reporters in the clubhouse, he bumped his head on the corner of his locker.
"Tommy Topper right there," he said, joking.
As for his thumb, "It doesn't feel great," Anderson said. "But there are a couple other places in my body that don't feel good now, either -- my head, my wrist. It's a little tender and swollen and bloody and gnarly-looking. It's gray, which is a weird color. Other than that, it was a good day. We won and I pitched fairly decent."
The typically graceless Anderson, who said he was actually trying to get out of the way of both balls that hit him, tweeted after the game, "They should just give me the Gold Glove now."
"You can't teach instincts," Melvin said, smiling.