Houston Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:29 PM
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston's Bud Norris isn't sure what his future holds.
Trade rumors making the possibility that he might not pitch in Houston again as an Astro made his start on Wednesday against Oakland a difficult one.
"It's something that I prepared myself for last night and the days leading up to it," Norris said. "So it definitely was a little emotional and the fans really knew about it too which was pretty special. I just went out there and threw a good ball game as best I could and gave my team a chance to win. Unfortunately it was a tough one."
The A's trailed by two in the seventh before an RBI double by Eric Sogard with one out cut the lead to 3-2 and chased Norris. Coco Crisp hit a two-run homer off Travis Blackley (1-1) to the Crawford Boxes in left field to help Oakland to the 4-3 win.
Norris yielded four hits and three runs with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. Houston left for a 10-game road trip afterward, making this his last start at home before next Wednesday's trade deadline.
As the highest paid player on this rebuilding team with a $3 million salary, Norris, who has spent his entire career with the Astros, has been the subject of rampant trade speculation.
"It's just the reality of the business and the understanding of the job and so forth," he said. "I understand where this organization is at and where they're going forward. They said I'm part of the plans; I'm not part of the plans — I don't really know. So I just have to see what happens."
Norris pitched better than he had in his last two tough starts where he allowed 17 hits and 13 runs combined in two losses.
"I felt like Bud was outstanding," manager Bo Porter said. "His slider was unbelievably sharp, great command of his fastball in and out and battled and pitched like a No. 1 starter."
Norris, who was drafted by Houston in 2006, has a 2.92 ERA in 12 starts at Minute Maid this season and a 3.38 ERA in 61 career starts in the park.
John Jaso had a solo homer in the first inning for the A's, who have won 11 of 12 against Houston this season.
A.J. Griffin (9-7) allowed six hits and three runs and tied a season-high with eight strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings for the win.
He continued to be plagued by the long ball though, giving up two more on Wednesday to give him 23 this season which is tied for second-most in the majors.
Jose Altuve tied it at 1 with a homer in the fourth inning and Carlos Corporan's two-run homer gave Houston a 3-1 lead in the sixth.
The Astros had a chance to tie it in the eighth inning with runners at first and second and one out. But Jesse Chavez retired Corporan before Ryan Cook came in and got Brett Wallace on a flyout to end the threat. Cook remained in for the ninth and got his second save.
Jaso's homer with one out in the first inning gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. Norris got right back on track after that and struck out Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie to end the inning.
Griffin didn't allow a hit until Marc Krauss singled with two outs in the third inning. Altuve opened Houston's fourth with his fourth home run of the season to tie it.
Jason Castro hit a double with one-out in the sixth before Corporan's two-out shot to the seats in right field put Houston up 3-1.
Norris had retired seven in a row before Jaso walked to start the sixth inning. Norris then plunked Donaldson, but escaped the jam by setting down the next three batters, ending the inning by striking out Brandon Moss.
Yoenis Cespedes was back in the lineup after not starting five games because of a sore left wrist and hit a single in the second inning. The Home Run Derby champ made his first appearance since the All-Star break as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday night.
NOTES: The Astros wore hockey jerseys for their trip to Toronto. Canadian LHP Erik Bedard suggested the idea to Porter when he was looking for a theme for the trip. The players got to choose any jersey they liked and there were many teams represented including the Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. ... Houston opens a four-game series at Toronto on Thursday with Bedard (3-7) on the mound. Bedard took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last start. ... Oakland's Dan Straily (6-3) is scheduled to pitch against Los Angeles left-hander C.J. Wilson (10-6) when the A's open a four-game series with the Angels.