HOUSTON (AP) - Houston's Bud Norris didn't get the outcome he wanted when he got into a jam in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics.
Still, manager Bo Porter thinks the experience was valuable for the ace of his pitching staff.
Bartolo Colon was sharp in his return from a drug suspension and Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Seth Smith homered to lead the Athletics to a 6-3 victory over the Astros on Saturday night.
Norris (1-1) allowed six hits and five runs - two earned - in 5 2-3 innings.
``Bud did a tremendous job,' Porter said. ``To me tonight, he grew up. He bulled his neck and did what a number one starter should do when the bullpen is light. He just started to go out there and give you one of those quality starts. He did everything we asked him today.'
Norris retired the first nine batters he faced before Oakland's first hit came on Crisp's homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field to start the fourth inning. Lowrie singled before Norris sat down the next three batters to end the inning.
Lowrie connected on the second pitch of the sixth inning for a homer which landed in the second row in right field to cut Houston's lead to 3-2. Josh Reddick reached on an error by Ronny Cedeno before Brandon Moss drew a two-out walk.
Reddick stole third base before scoring on a single to right field by Josh Donaldson to tie it 3-all.
It was a taxing inning for Norris, who threw 31 pitches in the frame. He left the game with 122 pitches after the hit by Donaldson.
Norris liked that Porter allowed him to remain in the game to try and finish the inning despite his high pitch count.
``I appreciate it,' Norris said. ``That's what you are trying to do is pitch deep into games, and to pitch deep into games you are going to have to make big pitches in situations. You can't always go to the (bullpen) on certain days. I felt I made a good pitch, but it found a hole. I was happy he kept me out there.'
The loss breaks a string of three straight wins dating back to last season for Norris. He picked up the victory in Houston's opener on Sunday, and the Astros haven't won since.
He was replaced by Wesley Wright, who gave up the go-ahead RBI single to Derek Norris. Erik Sogard tacked on a run with his single to center field which scored Donaldson and pushed the lead to 5-3.
It was the first appearance for Colon (1-0) since he received a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test Aug. 22. He allowed eight hits and three runs without a walk in six innings for the win.
Crisp homered for the second straight game with a solo shot in the fourth that put Oakland up 1-0.
Lowrie, who spent last season with the Astros, added a solo homer in Oakland's four-run sixth inning. Derek Norris gave the A's the lead with a run-scoring single later in the sixth.
Jason Castro hit a three-run homer in the fourth for the Astros.
``Those guys are going to be OK. The bats were definitely much better today,' Porter said of his offense. ``When you look at the number of balls that were put in play hard - Castro had the big three-run homer. These guys are going to hit. We have no doubt in our minds we are going to hit. It is just a matter of time.'
A's closer Grant Balfour struck out one in a scoreless ninth for his first save.
The 39-year-old Colon was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts last season. He sat out the last 40 games of the 2012 regular season, five games in the postseason and the first five games of this year.
Smith's eighth-inning solo homer to left field off Dallas Keuchel, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday, extended the lead to 6-3.
Colon had allowed just one hit before Carlos Pena and Justin Maxwell hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth inning. Castro's homer to left field came next to give Houston a 3-1 lead. J.D. Martinez followed with a single before Colon escaped the inning by retiring Matt Dominguez.
Houston didn't reach double digits in strikeouts for the first time this season by finishing with four on Saturday night.
But the Astros still set a record for most strikeouts in the first five games of a season in major league history since 1921 with 60, according to STATS LLC. The previous record was held by the Washington Nationals, who struck out 57 times through the first five games of 2009.
``I couldn't tell you how many it was yesterday or how many it was today,' Porter said when asked about the strikeouts. ``What I do know is we lost the game.'
Crisp, who hit a leadoff homer on Friday, has had a great start to this series, hitting three doubles and two homers in the first two games.
NOTES: These teams wrap up the series on Sunday when Houston's Lucas Harrell opposes Brett Anderson. ... A's 1B Moss rejoined the team on Saturday after leaving Thursday to be with his pregnant wife, who was having contractions. She hadn't yet had the baby, their second son, by Saturday afternoon. Moss said Saturday that he hoped the baby would wait to come until Monday when the A's have a day off. But he was keeping his phone close in case he needed to fly back sooner. Whenever he comes, they've got a name picked out for the boy. He'll be called Brody. ... Saturday marked the third time in team history that the A's have used six different starting pitchers in the first six games of the season and the first since 1983.
The Associated Press News Service
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