Houston ends their losing streak

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 4-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their string of bad luck and unexpectedly bad baseball continuing throughout the week and adding up to a five-game losing streak, the Astros were likely desperate to right the ship and avoid a four-game series sweep with a win on Sunday. Here is a quick recap of the finale with the A's:

Final Score: Astros 4, A's 1.

Record: 79-46, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (13-4, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brett Anderson (10-9, 4.06 ERA).

1) Great start for Greinke, gets win number 200

Zack Greinke got out to a hot start on Sunday afternoon, getting through the first three innings perfectly by retiring all nine batters in order and doing so with a very low pitch count. The A's struck first though, getting their first hit with a leadoff solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning and go up 1-0.

Greinke struggled a little more in that inning, allowing a walk and a single to give Oakland a chance to extend their lead, but he was able to strand them and get out of the inning. He would go on to hold Oakland scoreless over the next three innings, completing seven innings while allowing just one run en route to another win.

His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. The win was number 200 for Greinke's career, moving him up another spot in the all-time win leaders list.

2) Bregman breaks Houston out of the slump

After wasting multiple chances early in the game, resulting in five stranded runners through the first four innings, the Astros were able to finally break through in the fifth. Back-to-back singles to start the inning gave Houston a couple of baserunners, with a groundout for the first out moving Josh Reddick to third.

Instead of tying the game on a sacrifice fly, the second out was a ball to shallow to allow Reddick to tag home. That brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and he was able to get Houston their first runs of the day with a two-out three-run home run to put the Astros in front 3-1.

After a leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the sixth, Yuli Gurriel would extend Houston's lead to 4-1 with an RBI-double into the left-field corner. With Greinke's day done after seven terrific innings, Houston went to their bullpen starting in the eighth with Ryan Pressly who kept the three-run lead by tossing a scoreless inning. Roberto Osuna took over in the ninth and earned the save by finishing off the win to end Houston's losing streak.

Up Next: The Astros will be flying back to Houston on Sunday before kicking off a ten-game homestand with a four-game series with the Tigers starting on Monday night. The opening pitching matchup is expected to be Wade Miley (11-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston going against Edwin Jackson (3-5, 8.62 ERA) for Detroit.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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