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TOR@OAK: Colon tosses six strong innings vs. Toronto

The Astros left Houston with a sour taste in their mouths.

After a 1-6 homestand, capped by a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers and a Yu Darvish near-no-hitter in the series finale on Monday, the last-place Astros will embark on a nine-game road trip spanning three cities.

They'll start in Oakland on Tuesday, where right-hander Jordan Lyles will square off against A's righty Bartolo Colon.

After a 5-1 win against the Blue Jays on Monday, and the Rangers' sweep of the Astros, Oakland sits a game back of Texas in what should be a thrilling photo finish for the American League West title. The A's have lost seven of their last 11.

Tuesday's outing will give Lyles a chance to straighten out some of his crooked numbers. He's given up at least three earned runs in each of his starts since July 4, and four or more in four of the five. In that span, he's seen his ERA climb from 3.87 to 5.40, leaving the Astros with little margin for error when he takes the hill. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Red Sox, surrendering eight runs on nine hits.

"My bad outings have been bad, real bad," Lyles said. "Offense came out [Tuesday] and put up some big numbers. I let it go, made the bullpen throw a lot of innings. It was a tough game to watch."

Colon, too, is coming off a forgettable outing in what has been an excellent 2013 campaign. He gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings -- a season low in innings pitched -- in a loss to the Reds.

"He didn't look like he had his best stuff [against the Reds]," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "His velocity was down. He did have a little bit of a stomach ailment in the bullpen when he was warming up. He's had it before, so it was just a combination of things today.

"He's also able to pitch without his best stuff at times. [Wednesday] is the first time we have not seen him do that."

Astros: Castro streaking
• Jason Castro, who did not play Monday against Darvish and the Rangers, has a career-best 10-game hitting streak going, and is batting .358 (15-for-39) over that stretch. He is 6-for-12 over his last three games.

• Lyles has allowed nine or more hits in each of his last three starts. That's tied for the second-longest run in franchise history, and it makes him the first Houston hurler to be that hittable since Wandy Rodriguez gave up that many hits between May 28-June 8, 2012.

Lyles has given up 39 runs in his last eight starts, making for an 8.49 ERA during that span. Houston has lost all of those games, with Lyles getting the decision in five of them.

A's: Offense in hot stretch
• The A's have recorded 10 or more hits in four of their last five games, and are hitting .302 (56-for-185) with 34 runs scored over that span. That comes out to 6.8 runs per game over that stretch.

• The A's committed six errors in their four-game series against the Blue Jays, and have now made at least one error in eight of their last 11 games (12 errors total).

Worth noting
• The A's are 21-14 in one-run games.

• Since his promotion from the Minors on July 27, Astros rookie Robbie Grossman has recorded a hit in 11 of 14 games. He's hit .339 (18-for-53) with three homers and nine RBIs.

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