(Sports Network) - Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon takes the ball in a
tight playoff chase on Sunday afternoon when the Oakland Athletics finish a
four-game series with the visiting Houston Astros at the Coliseum.
The Athletics dropped the opener, but have won two straight to go from second
place to first in the American League West, where they now lead the Texas
Rangers by 1 1/2 games. The Rangers have dropped three in a row to fall out.
The Rangers, though, have the edge over Tampa Bay in the race for the first of
two available AL wild card positions.
Colon, who's made 401 starts in a big league career that stretches back to
1997, is 6-3 in 10 lifetime meetings with Houston, but dropped a 5-4 decision
at home when he last faced them on Aug. 13.
He was pulled after just four innings in that game and allowed five runs and
seven hits, which raised his career earned run average against the Astros to
3.53 and pushed his 2013 ERA from 2.75 to 2.97.
Colon had improved to 14-3 on the season with a July 26 defeat of the Los
Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but has since gone 0-3 in five starts.
He took a tough luck defeat in his most recent outing on Sept. 3 against
Texas, allowing one earned run in five innings of a 5-1 loss.
Oakland is 4-6 in his last 10 starts.
Colon will be opposed by Astros rookie right-hander Paul Clemens, who was nine
when Colon first pitched in the majors with the Indians.
Now 25, the South Carolina native opened his inaugural season with 30 straight
trips from the bullpen while compiling a 4-4 record with a 6.36 ERA across 46
He's pitched to mixed results in two subsequent starts on Aug. 27 and Sept. 2,
allowing 11 hits and four earned runs in 9 2/3 innings of a pair of no-
decisions against the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota.
In two previous relief outings against the Athletics, Clemens pitched a
combined 7 2/3 innings while allowing just three hits and a run with two walks
and four strikeouts.
On Saturday, Dan Straily tossed seven scoreless innings and Jed Lowrie added a
key late solo homer as Oakland nipped Houston, 2-1.
Yoenis Cespedes also went deep for the Athletics, who have won seven of nine
Straily (9-7) allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out seven, and
Sean Doolittle finished off the win by recording the final four outs to earn
his first save.
Brandon Barnes drove in the lone run for the Astros, who skidded to their
ninth defeat in the last 12. Brett Oberholtzer (4-2) was the hard-luck loser,
giving up seven hits and two runs while fanning five in six full frames.
Oakland is 14-4 against the Astros this season.
The Sports Network