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OAK@SF: Hammel tosses five strong frames in A's debut

Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel will try to keep his personal momentum going when he starts Wednesday's series finale against the A's. He threw seven innings and gave up two unearned runs on nine hits without walking a batter on a 2-0 loss to the Marlins last Friday.

It was a good result for Keuchel, who was 1-3 with a 6.07 ERA in five starts prior to last Friday. Keuchel said it's taken him a while to work out the wrist discomfort he was dealing with earlier in July.

"It's taken a few starts for me to get back on track," Keuchel said. "That's a big part of my throwing mechanics. I think it was just a combination of the wrist getting back to normal and me getting over the fatigue hump, midseason fatigue. My arm was dragging and I kind of cleaned that up and was really happy and positive about pitching against the Marlins."

He'll go up against Jason Hammel, who came to the A's by way of the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Cubs earlier this month. Hammel suffered his third loss in as many starts for the A' s last Friday after allowing three earned runs (four total) on seven hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers. He has a 7.12 ERA with Oakland.

"It comes down to execution," said Hammel. "I haven't executed the pitches.

"Baseball is a long season. Even the best have some hiccups. Right now it's just a hiccup. We're getting right and I'm feeling more comfortable every time out there. I try not to pay too much attention to results. But it's something I take pride in and I want to come over here and make an impact."

Hammel is hoping that playing the Astros, against whom he's had success, will help the get his career with the A's jump-started.

Against Houston, in five career appearances -- four starts -- Hammel is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA. Hammel's ERA against the Astros is his lowest against any Major League team.

"Just from what I remember, things have been very good against them," said Hammel.

Astros: Carter trying to finish off huge July
Designated hitter Chris Carter is trying to put an exclamation point on what could be the best offensive month of his career.

Carter is hitting above .300 for July, and entering Tuesday had six doubles, eight homers and 19 RBIs for the month. He leads the AL in slugging percentage in July and ranked tied for first in homers, second in OPS and third in RBIs.

"I really hope this here is a sign that of good things continuing to come," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Even when you look at his early struggles and the ups and downs, from staff standpoint this is the potential we could see in spurts. This is probably the most consistent he's been for a stretch of time. I believe this is the player he is, and if he continues to go through the process and mindset the way he's been working, he should be able to do it on a consistent basis."

A's: Crisp remains out of lineup
Coco Crisp, recovering from a strained neck, missed his third straight game on Tuesday. But there has been no decision yet about placing Crisp on the disabled list.

"The MRI showed no changes, which is a good thing," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. "Obviously the rest here the last couple of days has the potential to help him. They're trying to figure out how to alleviate some of the issues he's having. Whether it's medication or whatever."

On Tuesday against the Astros, Josh Reddick started in center field.

Crisp is not in Houston for the three-game series, which concludes on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The A's return to Oakland on Friday to play Kansas City. Melvin said he doesn't know when Crisp will return to the lineup. Crisp will meet with team officials on Friday to find out when he may be ready to play next.

Worth noting
• The A's used a rookie in Monday's game -- Billy Burns -- for the first time this season, after going the first 104 games without using one, which was the longest season-opening streak without a rookie by a Major League team since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles went the first 152 games.

• Rookie outfielder George Springer, who hasn't played since July 19 because of a left quad strain, took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since he was injured. Comments