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Astros unable to overcome Bedard's rocky first

OAKLAND -- After not allowing a run in his first two appearances with the Astros, Erik Bedard struggled mightily against the A's, walking three batters before recording his only out of the night.

After that first out, it did not got any better for the left-hander. He gave up two hits, including Nate Freiman's first career home run, and walked four total as the Astros dropped an 11-2 decision to the Oakland Athletics Monday night.

"I was trying to throw strikes. It just didn't happen," Bedard said. "It's happened before and it will probably happen again."

Bedard allowed six runs in his shortest outing of any kind since facing one batter against the Tampa Bay Rays in his second career appearance on April 21, 2002.

"Obviously, the first inning is the key to the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was patience. Sometimes it's a couple guys on and you're eager to swing. But they passed the baton to the next guy and it ended up being a big inning."

The last time an Astros starter went one-third of an inning was Brandon Duckworth on June 7, 2004.

It was Bedard's first loss in five starts at the Coliseum, where he had a 1.61 ERA entering play. That went up to 3.49 after recording one out, striking out former Astro Jed Lowrie.

"He just didn't have it," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I didn't see anything wrong mechanically and there's nothing wrong physically. It was a classic, 'Just one of those nights.'"

Bedard has limited experience with the current A's, having faced only Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss and Chris Young previously. He had allowed a combined two hits in 23 previous at-bats against the trio.

Carlos Pena had two hits and drove in a run for Houston on an RBI single in the fourth inning. Jose Altuve drove in the Astro's only other run on the night with a single that plated Ronny Cedeno in the seventh.

The real hero was Paul Clemens, who took over for Bedard in the first and gave his team something positive.

"Clemens was outstanding," Porter said. "He saved our bullpen and that puts us in a better position moving forward. It's a luxury to have guys with the ability to start."

Clemens recorded a win in his Major League debut, a four-inning effort against the Seattle Mariners in Bedard's last start. He was happier with Monday's outing.

"Each day it calms down and starts to feel normal," Clemens said. "I just have to get better and be a sponge, soak up everything around me."

Clemens received a couple of baseball lessons during the game, one from home-plate umpire Paul Emmel, and the other from team trainer Nate Lucero.

Clemens, who recorded the longest outing by a Houston reliever since Dave Borkowski went six innings in a game on Aug. 15, 2006, didn't get a call he wanted on a 2-2 pitch and reacted angrily. Emmel asked him to tone it down a little.

"I want to apologize to the whole umpiring crew," Clemens said. "That was just my competitive nature. I hope they don't take it personally. It was a big pitch with two outs and I let out a couple of words."

Clemens dislocated the pinkie finger on his right hand when he tried to grab a ground ball up the middle. He stayed in the game only after letting his trainer come out to pop it back in.

"It's nothing major, just a funny feeling for a while and then it's fine," Clemens said. "I could have done it myself, but I wanted to show I wasn't going to hide anything and pointed to it."

The Astros have lost three straight, and are still looking for their first win against the Athletics this season.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to
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