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Astros' McHugh shrugs off success vs. A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Houston Astros right-hander Collin McHugh said he doesn't spend much time thinking about his pitching history, but maybe he should make an exception going into his start against the Oakland A's on Wednesday afternoon.

McHugh is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland. Then there is his history of September success. McHugh is 10-0 with a 3.08 ERA in his past 12 September starts since 2014 as an Astro. This season, he is 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA in September.

McHugh (11-10, 4.66 ERA) is 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts against the A's this year, beating them in his most recent meeting on Aug. 30 in Houston. He threw six shutout innings with five strikeouts and one walk in six innings during a 3-1 victory.

"I can't think too far back," McHugh said Tuesday. "I know I faced them a few weeks back, three or four starts ago, threw the ball pretty well against them. But it's a good lineup. Any lineup you face in the major leagues is a major league lineup.

"Even at this point in the season, even with the guys that they're bringing up, whether you're in contention or not, every guy here is a major-leaguer, and any team's capable of beating any team on any given day. That's the beauty of baseball."

The Astros won the first two games in the series and will go for the sweep Wednesday. After beating the A's 2-1 in 10 innings on Tuesday night, Houston moved to within two games of the Baltimore Orioles for the American League's second wild-card spot.

McHugh, who has a four-game winning streak, is coming off of one of his best starts of the season. He held the Seattle Mariners scoreless on two hits over seven innings Friday in a 6-0 victory. He struck out six and walked two.

"I felt good," McHugh said. "Command-wise, I probably felt as sharp as I've felt all season the last month or so."

A's rookie right-hander Daniel Mengden (2-7, 5.68 ERA) will make his 13th start of the season and is coming off arguably his best outing of the year. He blanked the Kansas City Royals on a season-low three hits over seven innings Thursday in a 14-5 victory. Mengden struck out six and didn't walk a batter for the first time this season. Before that start, he had allowed two or more runs every outing.

"That's been one of my biggest flaws since I've been up here, the amount of walks I've had," Mengden said. "If you look at my stats in the minor leagues, my walks have been good compared to strikeouts. When I got up here, I think that's where I got into most of my trouble.

"Free passes are the worst. They'll kill you as a pitcher. I'm just trying to throw strikes. Getting ahead is the biggest thing."

A's manager Bob Melvin said Mengden attacked hitters at Kansas City.

"It was just pounding the strike zone," Melvin said. "I think he'd been getting behind in counts, maybe picking a little too much at the corners as opposed to throwing the ball over the plate and getting ahead. And he did that really effectively, so hopefully the confidence goes into his next start because I think he understands when he throws the ball over the plate, he's got a good chance to get hitters out and stay in the game a little bit longer.

"For a while there, he was getting behind and throwing a lot of pitches. They were making him work pretty hard and he was coming out of games early, (but) I think he got past that in his last outing."

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