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Another sloppy night on defence, pitching trouble allows A's to trounce Houston again, 12-5

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HOUSTON - Pitching woes and fielding blunders doomed the Houston Astros again Friday night.

Three errors and a disastrous seven-run ninth inning led to a 12-5 loss as the Astros' struggles against Oakland continued.

A season-high 11 hits weren't enough for the Astros to solve the A's, who have won 20 of 24 against the Astros since Houston joined the American League West last season. The Astros are 0-5 against Oakland this year.

"That's about as frustrating as you can get," Houston's Jason Castro said. "We've had our struggles against the A's, but we came back from behind, so that was nice to see. But to have it unravel was tough."

The game was tied at 5 when Josh Fields (0-2) plunked Brandon Moss before back-to-back singles by Alberto Callaspo and Craig Gentry loaded the bases.

Daric Barton's sharply hit grounder bounced off Jose Altuve's glove and into right field to send two home. Rookie right fielder George Springer's error on that play allowed a third run to score, sending the few fans left filing to the exits.

The Astros entered Thursday night with just seven errors through the first 22 games, ranking third in the majors. Two games later, they have more than doubled their errors following Thursday night's five-error disaster.

Josh Donaldson, who homered twice on Thursday night, connected again on Friday with a shot off Anthony Bass to the Crawford Boxes in left field to make it 12-5. Moss was hit by a pitch for a second time in that inning after the home run to become the first player in the majors to be hit twice in the same inning since David DeJesus on June 18, 2012.

Jed Lowrie added two hits and two RBIs for the A's.

Altuve had three hits and drove in a run for Houston, which has lost 10 of its last 12 games and allowed 22 runs in the first two games of this four-game series.

Chris Carter hit a leadoff double in the eighth inning, but Luke Gregerson (1-1) retired the next three Astros to end the threat.

Former Astro Fernando Abad hit Castro on the backside with a pitch with one out in the ninth inning. Castro jawed with catcher Derek Norris before heading to first base. Houston manager Bo Porter darted out of the dugout and began yelling at plate umpire Jordan Baker and was ejected.

"If you're going to toss our guy yesterday, it looked pretty intentional to me," Porter said. "It's a judgment call on the umpire's part, and he didn't think it was intentional."

Castro's plunking came after Lowrie accused Houston of intentionally hitting him with a pitch Thursday night for an incident in the last series between these teams when the Astros were miffed after he attempted a bunt with a seven-run lead in the first inning.

"We're trying to pitch to get guys out," Castro said. "We're not trying to extend a seven-run inning any longer. I thought that that was pretty weak."

The A's put up four runs in the second inning and extended the lead to 5-1 in the fourth. Houston answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning to tie it up.

Jesse Chavez had his first tough outing of the season, allowing a career-high eight hits with five runs — four earned — in five innings. He entered having allowed just one earned run in each of his four starts and had a 1.38 ERA.

Houston starter Brad Peacock yielded five hits and five runs, including three earned, with a career-most six walks in five innings.

NOTES: Houston right-handed reliever Jesse Crain, who has been on the disabled list all season after biceps surgery during spring training has been shut down after developing bursitis in his shoulder. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the current problem is not related to his surgery. He was scheduled to return in early May, but Luhnow said he will not be ready then and he should have an updated timetable for his return in about 10 days. ... RHP Mark Appel, the first overall pick by the Astros in 2013, has been sent to extended spring training after starting the season at Single-A Lancaster. Luhnow said he is not injured but was behind after missing most of spring training after an emergency appendectomy and needed more games to get "more used to the pro routine."

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