The A's swept the Astros this past weekend and will try to extend their win streak in the series to seven while earning their 11th victory in 13 all-time games in Houston on Thursday night.Oakland (13-8) was off to its best start since 1990 before a three-game sweep this week against a red-hot Texas team. The A's had just two singles and Josh Donaldson's double in a 3-0 loss in Wednesday's finale."They just beat us," manager Bob Melvin said. "Not much you can say about that. They played better than we did and deserved to win. We just have to put it past us and get on the road and get a win under our belt and start rolling again."Oakland will try to turn it around after they cruised through a sweep of the Astros, who were outscored 19-7 over the three games and fell to 5-23 in the all-time series.The A's went 8-1 in Houston last season. The Astros (7-15) have the AL's worst home record at 3-7 and have dropped their last four there. They're returning to Minute Maid Park, however, after coming within two outs of three-game sweep at Seattle and their longest win streak of the season.Houston led the Mariners by one run entering the ninth but Josh Fields gave up a three-run homer to Kyle Seager in a 5-3 loss."The most demoralizing loss in baseball is a late-inning loss, when you have the game won," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "Since I've been here we've had our share of them."Brett Oberholtzer will try to help his club bounce back with another strong outing. He's given up one run in each of his last two games, including one in Oakland on Saturday, but remains winless.Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.04 ERA) shook off an illness and helped Houston to a 3-1 lead after six innings against the A's, but Chad Qualls gave up three runs in the ninth in a 4-3 defeat.Oberholtzer, 0-1 with a 1.54 ERA in two career starts versus Oakland, will again pitch opposite Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.65).The A's left-hander was in line for a loss Saturday after giving up three runs in a season-high eight innings, but he was bailed out by Jed Lowrie, Alberto Callaspo and Josh Reddick, who singled home the winning run. Kazmir has pitched eight frames twice since the beginning of the 2009 season."It's great, early in the year, to be going deep in the games and still have quality pitches from my first pitch to my last pitch," he told the team's website. "It's huge."Kazmir is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his two starts against the Astros since a difficult outing in his only game in Houston on April 20, 2013, while pitching for Cleveland. He was tagged for six runs and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings but avoided the loss because the Indians produced a 19-6 rout.
Scott Kazmir has thrown strikes on 68.7 percent of his pitches, which is 10th most in MLB. Jonathan Villar is swinging and missing on 19 percent of pitches thrown inside the strike zone in 2014, with just a .196 batting average on such pitches.