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Preview: Astros at Athletics

GAME: Houston Astros (75-64) at Oakland Athletics (60-79)
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, September 09 – 10:05 PM EST
WHERE: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
LINE: -145, 134 TOTAL: 7.5

The Houston Astros attempt to hang on to the top spot in the American League West and avoid a three-game sweep when they visit their division-rival Oakland Athletics on Wednesday for the series finale. Houston has seen its lead over Texas in the division dwindle to a single game as it has begun its 10-game road trip with back-to-back losses to Oakland.

The Astros managed only four hits in Tuesday’s 4-0 setback as it lost for the fifth time in seven contests this month. Billy Burns and Mark Canha homered off former teammate Scott Kazmir as Oakland improved to 3-5 on its nine-game homestand. Despite owning the worst record in the AL, the Athletics still can play a major role in the division. After Wednesday’s finale, Oakland embarks on a 10-game road trip during which it plays three against Houston and Texas before returning home for another three-game set versus the Rangers.

TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston), CSN California (Oakland)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Collin McHugh (15-7, 3.75 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Aaron Brooks (1-2, 6.91)

McHugh is coming off his second straight victory, a triumph over Minnesota on Friday in which he scattered seven hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. The 27-year-old native of Illinois has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last six outings but is only 3-2 in that span. McHugh fell to 2-1 with a 1.77 ERA lifetime against the Athletics on Aug. 8 despite giving up only two runs in six frames at Oakland.

Brooks lasted only 2 1/3 innings against Seattle on Friday as he was battered for six runs on six hits and two walks. The 25-year-old Californian is 1-2 with a 7.03 ERA in six games (five starts) since being acquired from Kansas City, with whom he surrendered three runs over 4 1/3 frames in two relief appearances. Brooks settled for a no-decision in his only career start against Houston on Aug. 6 despite allowing one run and four hits in seven innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Athletics are 8-7 against Houston this season, including 5-4 at home.

2. Oakland 3B Danny Valencia has recorded at least one hit in each of his 13 career games versus the Astros.

3. Canha’s home run was his 14th of the season – and third in four games – but only his second against a left-hander.

PREDICTION: Astros 7, Athletics 2