HOUSTON -- Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus hit two-run homers and Jason Castro added a solo shot to lead the first-place Astros to their sixth win in seven games with a 6-4 victory over the A's on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Astros starter Roberto Hernandez (2-3) worked six innings and allowed two runs and seven hits, giving him seven consecutive starts of at least six innings. He gave up an RBI double to Josh Reddick in the third and a solo homer to Max Muncy in the sixth that cut the lead to 3-2.
"We had a lot of opportunities early and we made a few outs on the bases again," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "You never feel like it's enough. That team across the way, I know the record doesn't indicate it, but that team competes and they're in all these one-run games all the time. We knew they were going to hang around, and obviously we could have done without them getting that close, but I was proud of our guys for continuing to tack on when we had the lead."
Sonny Gray (4-2), pitching at Minute Maid Park for the first time in his career, allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings.
Houston improved to 26-14, the best 40-game start in franchise history.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Multiple homers boost Astros: The Astros improved to 17-0 in games in which they've hit multiple home runs, extending Houston's Major League-best lead to 60 home runs. Carter hit a two-run shot off Gray in the second, and Rasmus and Castro -- left-handed hitters -- hit homers in the eighth off lefty reliever Fernando Abad.
"I believed these guys were going to hit some homers, and they've hit some off some lefties, and it's been fun to manage," Hinch said. More >
Baserunning blunders: The A's ran themselves out of the second inning, twice watching one of their own get tagged out at the plate. Muncy, who drew a one-out walk, was given the green light by third-base coach Mike Gallego on a Brett Lawrie double but was easily tagged out. Then Lawrie was called out on a close play at the plate when he attempted going from second to home on Sam Fuld's infield single. The A's challenged the play, but the call stood.
"Ball off the bat, I thought he was going to be safe," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Muncy. "They made two pretty good relay throws. Both guys thought they were safe. Apparently, they weren't on replay. I thought the second one was probably real close."
Abad's struggles continue: Abad faced three hitters and served up two home runs to a pair of left-handed hitters, upping his overall season total to four homers allowed in just 11 innings, after giving up four all of last season. He remains the lone left-hander in the A's bullpen. More >
Crisp exits with neck tightness: A's left fielder Coco Crisp exited Tuesday's game after just three innings because of neck tightness. Crisp is considered day to day, but he missed a good chunk of last season while dealing with the same issue, which is cause for concern. He aggravated it Tuesday when trying for Rasmus' second-inning leadoff double. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Castro's home run in the eighth inning was the 42nd of his career as a catcher, pushing him past Brad Ausmus and into third-place on the team's all-time chart for homers by a catcher. Only Alan Ashby (69) and John Bateman (44) have more homers as a catcher.
"This is a very historic organization, with [Jeff] Bagwell and [Craig] Biggio and [Nolan] Ryan, all those guys who were here before us. It's an honor, I guess you want to say, and it's humbling to go out here and play on the heels of those guys, and it's big shoes to fill. But for us, it's fun going out, and you just have to keep competing and take it one day a time." -- Astros outfielder George Springer on the team's 26-14 start.
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: The A's will turn to right-hander Jesse Hahn in Wednesday's 11:10 a.m. PT matinee at Minute Maid Park. Hahn went 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA over his first three starts but is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his last four, and the A's are 1-6 in his starting assignments. This will be his first career start against the Astros.
Astros: Ace Dallas Keuchel takes the ball Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. CT in the series finale for the Astros, the final game of their nine-game homestand. Keuchel (5-0) has won seven consecutive decisions, a career high. That streak ranks fourth among active streaks in the American League. In his last 13 starts (since Aug. 26), he's 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.