Melvin: 'Good starters, there are a couple ways to beat them'
Colon was held to 83 pitches, but lasted six innings and allowed three runs. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
HOUSTON, Tex. -- After being sidelined by a 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, Bartolo Colon returned a winner in Houston. The veteran starting pitcher delivered the A's a 6-3 victory, their fourth in a row and his first since last August.
Colon was held to 83 pitches, but lasted six innings and allowed three runs.
"I was happy to pitch for the first time, but happier to be in the clubhouse for the first time with the team," Colon said.
Suspensions aren't easy to deal with for a variety of reasons, as Colon learned. Not being able to pitch for the A's during their playoff run was the chief concern, but not being allowed in the clubhouse for their first five games became a trickier issue than he anticipated.
"It was a bit difficult for me because I could only watch the games on TV when I wanted to be with the team," Colon said.
In the Bay Area, that wasn't a problem because he could go home and watch the games. In Houston he couldn't see any of the games because the team hotel doesn't carry Comcast SportsNet, the home of the Astros.
As a result, Colon had to face a very unfamiliar lineup that included only one player, Carlos Pena, that he's ever faced before.
"I had to take care of myself and not worry about it because there were a lot of guys I didn't know," Colon said. "I never watch video, all I need is the catcher."
A's catcher Derek Norris made it easy for him defensively and offensively. Norris was part of a four-run sixth inning that saw Oakland send nine batters to the plate. Jed Lowrie led off the inning with a home run, and Josh Donaldson, Norris and Eric Sogard each hit two-out RBI singles to give Oakland a 5-3 lead.
After that, all Colon needed was a shutdown inning and he got one, barely. The veteran pitcher allowed back-to-back one-out singles, but after a visit from A's manager Bob Melvin and Norris, he was able to get J.D. Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"I thought he threw the ball great," Melvin said.
Colon's only major mistake came in the fourth inning when he gave up a three-run homer to Astros catcher Jason Castro. It must have been a strange moment for the Astros' catcher because he's from Castro Valley and is a life-long A's fan.
"I grew up going to A's games, my grandparents had season tickets," Castro said. "It's kind of weird being in Houston and seeing the A's come in."
This is the A's first trip to Houston since 2007, and they could leave with a sweep if they win on Sunday.
-- Trainers checked on Yoenis Cespedes after a swing in the seventh inning. Melvin said that Cespedes experienced some pain in his elbow. He ended up striking out swinging later in the at-bat.
"We'll see how he is tomorrow," Melvin said.
Cespedes is 0 for 9 with five strikeouts in this series. He says his mechanics are off and that he is attacking the ball instead of letting it come to him.
-- Jed Lowrie went 3 for 5 with a home run in the sixth inning. He has two home runs for the A's this season and the former Astro has 10 homers in 49 games at Minute Maid Park.
-- Coco Crisp homered for the second game in a row. He is 5 for 10 with three doubles, two homers and four RBI in this series.