Melvin: 'Good starters, there are a couple ways to beat them'
HOUSTON, Tex. -- Bartolo Colon's 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension concluded after Friday's game. He was on the mound in Houston on Saturday and it looked like he hadn't lost a step, especially early on.
Colon's fastball topped out at 93 MPH as he held the Astros to three runs on eight hits and no walks over six innings. He threw 83 pitches and helped the A's win 6-3, their fourth victory in a row .
The 39-year-old Cy Young award-winner had a good season prior to his suspension and he is an intriguing option at the back end of the A's rotation. He signed a one-year $3 million contract in the offseason with performance incentives. Starting pitcher Dan Straily will be waiting in the wings should Colon falter.
At the Plate
Astros starting pitcher and Novato native Bud Norris retired the first nine A's batters he faced. The second time through the order he didn't have as much success. Coco Crisp led off the fourth inning with an opposite field home run into the Crawford Boxes. It was the A's first hit of the game.
On Norris' third time through the order, Jed Lowrie pulled a home run into the right field stands to cut the Astros lead to one run. Lowrie hit 16 homers for the Astros last season and he already has two this season with Oakland. He finished the day 3 for 5 and is hitting .476 this season.
After Lowrie's homer, Josh Reddick reached on an error and then advanced to second when Brandon Moss drew a two-out walk. With Josh Donaldson batting, Reddick stole third. Donaldson worked the count full and tied the game with a perfectly placed RBI single that shot through the right side of the infield. The hit came on Norris' 122nd pitch.
With Norris done for the day, Astros manager Bo Porter made a curious decision to bring in a left-handed reliever to face Derek Norris, a righty, who has been used in a platoon role this season. Norris responded by stroking an RBI single to right field to give the A's a 4-3 lead. Eric Sogard followed by driving in the A's fifth run of the game with a single to the same spot as Norris.
Seth Smith drove in the A's sixth run with a solo home run into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Starting Pitching Report
Colon retired the first six batters he faced and even showcased a rare change up. He got his first win since August 18, 2012 when he defeated the Indians. He was suspended on August 22.
The veteran starter got in trouble in the fourth inning when he allowed four consecutive hits, including a three-run homer by Astros catcher Jason Castro that gave Houston a 3-1 lead.
After Oakland took a 5-3 lead in the sixth, Colon looked like he might be in trouble again. He gave up back-to-back singles, but got J.D. Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play. A's manager Bob Melvin and Derek Norris visited Colon on the mound prior to the double play. Whatever Melvin said worked.
Between Straily and Colon, A's starting pitchers haven't walked a batter in two consecutive games.
Grant Balfour got his first save of the 2013. He took the mound in the ninth inning with a three-run lead and quickly dispatched the Astros hitters.
Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect seventh inning. Strangely, the flame-throwing lefty didn't strike out a single Astros hitter. Houston leads Major League Baseball with 60 strikeouts.
Ryan Cook struck out Chris Carter as part of a flawless eighth inning.
In the Field
Donaldson made a diving play on a ball hit by Martinez in the third inning, but he couldn't get the ball to first on time. It was the first hit of the night allowed by Colon.
Sogard robbed Ronny Cedeno of a single in the eighth inning with a sprinting and later diving stop and throw to first base.
The Astros announced an attendance of 18,685.
Brett Anderson (0-1, 2.57 ERA) takes on Lucas Harrell (0-1, 1.50 ERA) in the series finale. Anderson has never faced the Houston Astros.