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12-5

Astros-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

Scott Kazmir appears healthy and focused on helping the Oakland Athletics continue their success over the Houston Astros.

Looking to go 3-0 for the first time in his major league career, the Houston native hopes to overcome a minor injury and lead the A's to a fifth consecutive victory over the visiting Astros on Saturday.

After allowing his first three runs of the season in six innings at Minnesota on April 7, Kazmir (2-0, 1.40 ERA) gave up two hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter over six before the offense came alive in a 3-0 victory at Seattle on Sunday.

The 30-year-old Kazmir experienced some tendinitis in his triceps after that performance, but declared himself "100 percent" after he tossed a regular bullpen session without any trouble Wednesday.

"It was great," Kazmir told the Athletics' official website. "I threw off flat ground, but that's something I normally do. I threw all my pitches.

"Bottom line, I think it's the best I've felt all year."

Pitching for Cleveland in 2013, Kazmir allowed six runs in 3 1-3 innings in a 19-6 win over the Astros in his hometown in April, then tossed seven scoreless while striking out 10 in a 4-1 home win over Houston in September.

Oakland (11-5) has outscored the Astros 27-11 during a winning streak that reached four games with Friday's 11-3 rout. Yoenis Cespedes had three hits, three RBIs and one of the four home runs hit by the A's, who have won 16 of 20 versus Houston.

Alberto Callaspo hit a three-run homer and Josh Reddick added a two-run shot for Oakland, which scored seven times in the first inning and took advantage of 10 walks to win for the ninth time in 11 games overall.

"More than anything for us it was the early runs," said A's manager Bob Melvin, whose team had not scored in the first or second inning of the previous four contests.

''We hadn't been doing that lately."

Cespedes is batting .415 with three home runs and 10 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak against the Astros (5-12), who have totaled 10 runs while dropping five in a row.

Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50) is 0-7 with a 3.05 ERA in seven starts since he tossed a four-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Seattle on Sept. 1. That winless stretch began when he gave up only a solo homer to Cespedes in six innings of a 2-1 loss at Oakland on Sept. 7.

The Astros have totaled six runs with the left-hander on the mound in his last seven outings. They fell 1-0 at Texas on Sunday when he gave up that run in the sixth inning and lasted seven while striking out seven without a walk.

''Oberholtzer was outstanding," manager Bo Porter said. "We've got to get (the offense) going. If you don't score, you've got zero chance of winning."

Prized Astros prospect George Springer had two hits from the cleanup spot Friday, and is 4 for 14 in three games since making his major league debut this week.

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