A's offense breaks out in rout of Astros

Six-run second and four-run fourth put game out of reach early

A's offense breaks out in rout of Astros

HOUSTON -- The A's continued to torment their new American League West opponents on Saturday evening, batting around the order in two innings against the host Astros in an 11-5 drubbing at Minute Maid Park.

Oakland collected a season-high 18 hits, including back-to-back home runs from Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss in the fourth inning, and every starter tallied an RBI in the lopsided affair that gave the A's their eighth win in as many tries vs. Houston this season.

It was the first time since May 18, 2005 each of the starting nine in the A's lineup drove in a run. Only Adam Rosales was without a hit.

Manager Bob Melvin, unaware of this, smiled and said, "We'll take that."

"That's pretty rare, doesn't happen too often," he said.

Oakland has outscored the Astros, 62-29, this season, and Houston's Lucas Harrell is responsible for allowing 14 of those runs. He's given up 21 to everyone else.

The right-hander, who surrendered eight to the A's in an April start, was touched up for six runs on six hits and three walks while utilizing 61 pitches in just 1 2/3 innings.

The A's sent 12 men to the plate in the second, the big six-run inning jumpstarted by a bunt single off the bat of Seth Smith to beat a defensive shift.

"We've been trying to get some of our lefties to do that," said Melvin. "Not only does it get you a hit if you can do it, but now all of a sudden the defense has to play a little differently. We've been playing several teams that have shifted us, taking a portion of the field away from us. [Harrell] has to go over and get dirty sliding after it, and the next thing you know, he's out of the game. I think that's prudent of us to do that when it's given to us.

"Obviously, there are some bigger blows throughout the course of the game, but that was one of the keys to the game."

"I think, more than anything, it made the pitcher try to work," said Donaldson. "I don't know, it might have flustered him a little bit, because he was like, 'Oh, what happened right there?' After that we got a few more hits and put a pretty long inning together, so it was nice."

It was Donaldson who followed with what would be the first of his four hits, and a Moss walk was followed by a two-run double from Friday's hero, Houston native Chris Young.

Young also finished with three hits to give him 36 in his career at Minute Maid Park, where at least 40 friends and family members were watching on Saturday evening. It marked back-to-back three-hit games for the A's outfielder, who didn't have any before this series.

Following Young's at-bat, Eric Sogard joined the fun with a base hit that plated a run, leading to Adam Rosales' RBI groundout for the first out of the inning. Coco Crisp followed with an RBI single and, after John Jaso made the second out, Harrell boarded each of the next three batters before his departure.

That left the A's to face righty Edgar Gonzalez, who got out of the inning without inflicting further damage, but Oakland came back to get him in the fourth by way of a four-run frame, sending nine to the plate.

Solo shots from Moss and Donaldson, whose RBI double in the eighth upped his season average to .322, highlighted the inning, and Jaso and Cespedes each contributed with RBI hits.

That left plenty breathing room for A.J. Griffin, who allowed three solo home runs, creating a new season high while matching his career best, in 5 2/3 innings. Jason Castro hit two off the righty, and Matt Dominguez also took him deep before notching his second of the night off lefty Hideki Okajima in the seventh.

Griffin was tagged for four runs total with one walk and seven strikeouts, intermittently sitting on the bench for lengthy periods while his teammates went to work.

"When your team is putting up runs for you like that, you can't complain," said Griffin. "They did a really good job of staying on pitches and making things happen. It was fun to watch."

"Obviously that's what we want to do every night," Donaldson said. "It's nice to know that guys can do it."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.