Astros' McHugh goes for first win vs. A's

HOUSTON -- Houston Astros closer Ken Giles continued what has been a strong individual second half on Friday night by striking out the side in the ninth inning en route to his 24th save. What was equally noteworthy were the two outs that Giles recorded in the eighth inning.

For the second time this week Giles was asked to record a multi-inning save, and on Friday night against the Oakland Athletics he accomplished the task with the same ease he did on Sunday at Texas. After inheriting baserunners against the Rangers and escaping unscathed to preserve a 2-1 win five days ago, Giles cleaned up the mess left by right-hander Chris Devenski with a double-play grounder before finishing off a 3-1 victory in Friday's opener of a three-game series.

"I've said that the last six weeks are going to be all hands on deck," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't want to make too much of a habit too early of using Giles in that way but when the game dictates it, it's every bit his responsibility to come in and get the outs.

"He's one of the best relievers we have. I haven't used him a ton this season. If you look at the closer usage, he's got some things left in his tank, which is good because we're going to need it."

Right-hander Collin McHugh (0-2, 4.88 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season for the Astros (75-47). McHugh has yet to face the Athletics in 2017 after missing the first three-plus months of the season, but is 6-1 with a 3.02 ERA over nine career starts against Oakland.

Right-hander Kendall Graveman (3-3, 4.70 ERA) will start on Saturday for the Athletics. In three starts since being reinstated from the 10-day disabled list on Aug. 3, Graveman is 1-1 with a 7.53 ERA and a .359 opponents batting average. Graveman is 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros, including a no-decision on April 14 in a 7-2 Oakland setback.

Graveman is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA over seven starts against the American League West but 1/3 with a 7.20 ERA in five starts on the road.

Before left-hander Sean Manaea surrendered three runs over six innings, including a pair of solo homers to Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve in the third inning, Oakland manager Bob Melvin lamented the ongoing struggles of his pitchers against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Prior to Friday night, the Athletics (53-69) had surrendered 33 runs over four losses to the Astros in Houston. Manaea was relatively effective measured against past performances, but the overall result was the same.

"We've been struggling pitching here recently too with our starters some, with losing some guys in the bullpen there have been some struggles for us on the pitching end of it," Melvin said. "This is the type of team that you can't really struggle too much with or they'll make you pay. Offensively we've had a little bit of an uptick but the pitching part we've got to get nailed down."
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