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                  === Hammel eyes first A's win in Houston ===
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Jason Hammel attempts to pick up his first victory in an
 Oakland uniform on Wednesday afternoon when the Athletics visit the Houston
 Astros for the rubber match of a three-game series.
 
 Hammel has lost all three of his games since being acquired from the Chicago
 Cubs along with Jeff Samardzija on July 5, giving up 10 earned runs over 12
 2/3 innings for a 7.11 earned run average. He had been 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA
 with the Cubs this season prior to the trade.
 
 The right-hander took a 4-1 loss at Texas on Friday and was charged with four
 runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings.
 
 "The easiest thing to do here is start getting down on myself, but I'm not
 going to do that," said Hammel.
 
 Oakland will look for the 31-year-old to get on track today against a
 favorable opponent, with Hammel having gone 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in five
 previous meetings with Houston, all but one of those being starts.
 
 The Astros counter with left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who has lost four of his
 past five decisions but seemed to round into form last time out despite taking
 a 2-0 loss to Miami.
 
 Keuchel allowed both runs in the seventh inning -- his final frame of the
 outing -- but both were unearned and he struck out seven without issuing a
 walk.
 
 "I don't think I lost it. I just think there were some bad breaks," said
 Keuchel. "I think I've been pitching well. It's just that the results haven't
 been there."
 
 The 26-year-old still suffered his second straight losing start and fell to
 9-7 with a 3.11 ERA on the year. He is winless in six previous meetings with
 Oakland, four of those starts, going 0-2 with a 5.20 ERA.
 
 After dropping Monday's opener, Oakland rallied to even the series last night
 with a 7-4 victory, plating six runs in the top of the ninth inning. Five of
 the runs were charged to Astros reliever Chad Qualls, who gave up a two-run
 single to a pinch-hitting Alberto Callaspo and another run-scoring base hit to
 Yoenis Cespedes.
 
 Tony Sipp entered and gave up a single to Brandon Moss that chased home
 another run with two outs and Jose Veras yielded a two-run double to Josh
 Donaldson before eventually getting out of the inning.
 
 "Give the Oakland A's credit, they battled back and beat our best guys. You
 just have to tip your hat to them," Houston manager Bo Porter said.
 
 Oakland sent 11 batters to the plate and Sean Doolittle fired a 1-2-3 home
 half of the frame to secure his 16th save and the club's fifth victory in
 seven games. That has the A's 2 1/2 games up on the Los Angeles Angels for
 first place in the AL West.
 
 Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo homer for the Astros, who have lost six of their
 past seven.
 
 Oakland is 23-8 against Houston since the start of last season.
 
 
 
 07/30 10:29:05 ET