Rookies dazzle to get A's back on track against Astros 

click to enlarge Sonny Gray helped keep the A's from being swept by the last-place Astros by allowing just four hits over eight innings. - ED SZCZEPANSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS
  • Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports
  • Sonny Gray helped keep the A's from being swept by the last-place Astros by allowing just four hits over eight innings.

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray earned his first big-league win with a dazzling home debut and Nate Freiman collected career highs with four hits and four RBIs as the A's topped the Houston Astros 5-0 at the O.co Coliseum on Thursday.

Gray (1-1) pitched eight shutout innings in just his second major-league start, surrendering four hits and fanning nine Astros batters on 118 pitches.

"He was outstanding," catcher Derek Norris said, referring to Gray. "The silly part about it is, he throws nothing straight. His fastball cuts, it sinks, it runs, it's got depth — and you haven't even gotten past the fastball yet."

A's manager Bob Melvin said the rookie right-hander gives the A's rotation, which has struggled over the past 16 games going 4-7 with a 4.47 ERA, another quality starter.

"Stuff-wise he's probably as good as anybody we have," Melvin said.

With the win, the A's (68-52) moved to within 1½ of the idle Texas Rangers in the AL West. The A's also currently occupy the league's second wild-card slot, a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the first position.

Freiman supplied most of the offense against the Astros (39-81), who waived him in spring training, going 4 for 4 with four RBIs.

The 26-year-old rookie drove in two runs in the first, slicing a double over first base, down the right-field line and into the Astros bullpen, scoring Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson.

He picked up two more RBIs in the third inning, smacking a two-run homer to left with Yoenis Cespedes aboard. Each of Freiman's three home runs and 10 of his 22 RBI this season have come via Astros pitching.

The 6-foot-8 first baseman collected two more hits with singles in the fifth and seventh innings. He fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle.

Freiman said he made adjustments in the cage with batting coach Chili Davis prior to the game.

"I was able to utilize a little bit more of my body, take a couple more aggressive swings," he said.

Lowrie drove in the A's first run with a double to the gap in left-center field, scoring Chris Young, who reached base on an infield single.

With the win, the A's averted being swept by the last-place Astros.

"I feel like that was big and, hopefully, we can go on a roll now," Gray said.

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Paul Gackle

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