HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Astros have another area of concern to start the season.
Reliever Xavier Cedeno gave up six runs without recording an out in the fifth inning, and the Astros' offense had more strikeouts than hits en route to an 8-3 loss to the Oakland A's on Friday.
Making his third major league start and his debut with the Astros, right-hander Brad Peacock pitched 4 1-3 innings before being replaced by Cedeno, whose struggles were exacerbated by a costly fielding error at shortstop by Marwin Gonzalez.
The Astros continued to struggle offensively in dropping their third straight game after winning the season opener against Texas.
Jose Altuve went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk, and Gonzalez and Matt Dominguez each finished 2 for 4 with a run scored for the Astros. But the rest of team combined for three hits and 13 strikeouts.
``We had some fastballs to put in play, but we fouled them off or swung through them,' Astros manager Bo Porter said. ``In the major leagues you're going to get at least one pitch to hit, and when you get it you've got to put it in play hard.'
``And if you don't put it in play hard you're going to find yourself chasing the pitcher's pitch, and that's what happened tonight.'
Brett Wallace, Rick Ankiel and designated hitter Carlos Pena combined to go 0 for 11 and accounted for seven of those strikeouts.
The Astros lead the majors by having struck out 56 times through four games.
The A's endured no such problems on their way to their third win in a row.
Coco Crisp led off the game with a home run and doubled twice in the fifth for the Athletics as part of a 3 for 5, three-RBI performance for the A's.
Crisp, who previously hit a leadoff homer on Sept. 28, 2012, against Seattle, also scored two runs.
Oakland right-hander Dan Straily struck out a career-high 11 for his first win. Straily allowed two runs and five hits and no walks over 6 2-3 innings.
Through four games, opposing starters have set or matched career highs for strikeouts against the Astros.
Facing his former team for the first time since being traded to Houston in the offseason, Peacock, who spent last season in Triple-A, gave up two runs and three hits, struck out a career-high five and walked three.
``After the first two innings, I calmed down and feel like I did OK,' Peacock said. ``It was the first time I'd been out there in a while. I wasn't nervous, but I was over-amped, trying to throw a little too hard, maybe.'
Peacock, who was making his first major league appearance since September 2011 with the Washington Nationals, had retired eight in a row before he was chased by Crisp's double with one out in the fifth inning.
``He did a good job of keeping it close, but at the same time it was too many deep counts,' Porter said. ``His pitch count got up there. This early in the season, I'm not going to extend him past 95-100 pitches.'
Peacock walked off the mound with his team trailing 1-0.
``I felt like I could have kept going, but I had a lot of pitches and I expected that,' he said.
Through four games, Astros starters have combined for a 2.49 ERA, having allowed six runs in 21 2-3 innings. They entered the game ranked third best in ERA in the American League with a 2.08.
The bullpen has been another matter over the past three games, which the Astros have lost by a combined 19-2.
Cedeno walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases, then watched as Gonzalez botched a potential double play at short, an error that cost the Astros two runs on the play and allowed Yoenis Cespedes to reach base.
Josh Reddick made it 4-0 on a sacrifice bunt by John Jaso, and Josh Donaldson followed a Chris Young walk with an RBI single that scored Cespedes.
``That's a tough error,' Porter said. ``The ball was hit pretty hard, but at the same time, if he'd field that ball cleanly, it's definitely an easy double play.'
Cedeno then hit Eric Sogard with a pitch to again load the bases to end his outing. He was replaced by right-hander Rhiner Cruz, who allowed Crisp's two-run double to make it 8-0.
Straily allowed a single to Chris Carter with two outs in the first inning before retiring 13 of the next 14 batters.
The Astros' next hit came in the sixth when Gonzalez doubled down the right field line.
The Astros scored for the first time in 24 1-3 innings when Altuve drove in Gonzalez with a single to make it 8-1.
Justin Maxwell doubled with no outs in the seventh off Straily. Straily was replaced by Pat Neshek with two outs, and Neshek allowed an RBI single to Matt Dominguez.
Wallace said the team is working hard to regain its form at the plate.
``You can't get too caught up on the numbers, especially this early in the season,' Wallace said. ``When we get pitches to hit we have to put them in play hard and do damage.'
``I think it comes down to rhythm.'
NOTES: The series continues on Saturday when Houston's Bud Norris opposes Bartolo Colon. ... Houston long reliever Alex White will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week and is out for the season. .... Houston designated right-hander Edgar Gonzalez for assignment to make room on the roster for pitcher Travis Blackley, who was acquired from Oakland on Thursday. ... The A's acquired minor league catcher Stephen Vogt from Tampa Bay for a player to be named or cash on Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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