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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, July 29 (All times Eastern)

Oakland Athletics (65-40) at Houston Astros (43-63), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 2.70) Houston - Scott Feldman (4-8, 4.60)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Oakland manager Bob Melvin needed his newest hurler Jeff Samardzija to step up last week and the hurler answered in a big way.

Samardzija will try to impress his Athletics teammates again on Tuesday night in the continuation of a three-game series with the Houston Astros.

Melvin needed Samardzija to put together a long outing last Thursday versus Houston in an effort to rest a tired bullpen and the right-hander came through with eight innings of one-run ball. Samardzija scattered a run on five hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

His victory came after a pair of okay starts and the 29-year-old moved to 2-1 with a 2.70 earned run average in four starts since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs. He has lasted at least seven innings in each outing, striking out 20 to just two walks.

"I love it when people expect a lot from you," Samardzija said of Melvin's need for the hurler to log innings.

Samardzija is 5-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 games (4 starts) versus the Astros and squares off against former Cubs teammate Scott Feldman for a second start in a row.

Feldman made 15 starts with the Cubs last season before getting dealt to Baltimore, then joined Houston as a free agent this past winter. He is just 4-8 with a 4.60 ERA on the season, though, posting an 8.13 ERA over his last three starts.

The right-hander has lost each of those three outings and gave up six runs on nine hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings on Thursday versus Oakland.

"It was a battle for him all day," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Feldman. "Early in the game he had his breaking ball working. They started laying off until it came back through the zone."

The 31-year-old Feldman dipped to 5-7 versus Oakland lifetime with a 6.34 ERA in 23 games, including 14 starts.

Houston slugged its way to a 7-3 victory over Oakland on Monday, with Jason Castro and Marc Krauss going back-to-back during a four-run sixth inning.

Castro's two-run blast to right-center against Jesse Chavez broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Astros the lead for good. Krauss followed with a solo shot and one batter after Oakland made a pitching change, Matt Dominguez hit the third home run of the inning to make it 7-3.

Chris Carter had a three-run homer earlier for the Astros, who snapped a five- game losing streak and beat Oakland for just the fourth time this season in 11 meetings.

"It's nice to see guys up and down the lineup getting involved tonight," Castro said. "That's all we can ask for, to keep swinging the bats."

Chavez (8-7) was charged with six runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, while his counterpart Brett Oberholtzer (3-7) made a little history en route to his first win since May 30. Oberholtzer became the first lefty starter in Houston franchise history to beat Oakland in 36 games.

The 25-year-old allowed three runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Oakland is 22-8 against Houston since the start of last season.

07/29 10:24:07 ET