Collin McHugh struck out 11 batters and allowed one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, and Jed Lowrie torched his former team by hitting a homer and driving in three runs to lead the Astros to a 6-1 win over the A's on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
McHugh (2-0) struck out the side in the first inning and had two strikeouts in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, but he was pulled after throwing 102 pitches without pitching deep enough to get a quality start. Lowrie hit a two-run homer in the first inning and had an RBI double in the third to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.
"It's a big game," McHugh said. "It's the last game of the series against a division opponent and you want to at least take one, especially at home. I was pumped up. I was excited."
Oakland loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning and pushed across a run when Marcus Semien beat a throw from Lowrie at shortstop for an infield hit. McHugh escaped when he got Sam Fuld to ground into a fielder's choice. A's starter Drew Pomeranz (1-1) gave up four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McHugh mows 'em down: McHugh's 11 strikeouts were one off his career high, which he set when he whiffed 12 in 6 2/3 innings during his Astros debut at Seattle last April 22. McHugh has won nine consecutive decisions dating back to Aug. 12 of last year, becoming the first Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt (2006-07) to win nine decisions in a row. More >
"I had a pretty good breaking ball tonight, which helped getting in two-strike counts," McHugh said. "You throw it down there and see if they chase."
Rocky road: Pomeranz, who entered the game riding a 15-inning scoreless streak dating back to last year, quickly surrendered two runs in the first on a two-run home run to Lowrie, who also hit an RBI double off the left-hander in the third. Pomeranz came back to retire the side in order during the fourth, but he was bit in the fifth by a one-out triple off the bat of Jake Marisnick, who scored on Jose Altuve's ensuing base hit. Pomeranz departed in the sixth following a leadoff walk to Lowrie, having allowed six hits with five strikeouts.More >
"Drew looked good tonight. He was able to get some bad swings on some good pitches," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "He just made some mistakes over the plate like he didn't his first outing, and they did a great job of taking advantage of them. He was good for the most part and just made a couple of mistakes and they seemed to cash in on those."
Lowrie gets best of former team: Lowrie, who spent two years in Oakland after being traded from the Astros prior to the 2013 season, went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. He slugged a two-run home run in the first inning -- his third homer of the season -- and added an RBI double in the third to score George Springer from first base. Lowrie walked in the sixth and struck out looking in the eighth. More >
"You always want to do well, but when you know all the guys, or most of the guys over there, you want to beat them," Lowrie said. "I know all those guys feel the same way."
Billy's big bat: With a base hit to lead off the second, designated hitter Billy Butler became the first player in Oakland history to begin his Athletics career with a hit in each of his first 10 games. Singles by Ike Davis and Eric Sogardmoved Butler to third, and he scored the A's only run of the night on Semien's infield base hit.
QUOTABLE "It was pretty exciting when he got back to the dugout. This guy works and he cares and he puts a lot of time and energy into everything he does. Everybody in that clubhouse knows how much he's grinding trying to break out, so maybe this is a sign of things to come." -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch on Evan Gattis' first homer with the Astros, a 421-foot shot to left-center in the eighth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The Astros are 4-0 this season in games started by Dallas Keuchel and McHugh, and 0-5 in games started by anybody else. Last year, they were 30-24 in games started by Keuchel and McHugh, and 40-68 in other games.
JACKIE ROBINSON DAY Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Wednesday, with all players and on-field personnel wearing No. 42. Semien called it "a real blessing." More >
Astros reliever Tony Sipp said wearing Robinson's number every day would bring an immense amount of pressure to live up to the man who broke baseball's color barrier. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: The A's will enjoy their first off-day of the season Thursday in Kansas City, before resuming play Friday at 5:10 p.m. PT for the start of a three-game series with the Royals at the home of Butler's old stomping grounds, Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Sonny Gray is scheduled to start for the A's.
Astros: The Astros have an off-day Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Angels at Minute Maid Park beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez will make his second start of the season for the Astros.