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Lawless, Castro on replacing Porter

On Monday the Astros dismissed Bo Porter and named Tom Lawless as interim manager. Houston, of course, will need to adjust after the change, but so, too, will the team's opponents.

The Astros begin a three-game series with the A's on Friday in Oakland, and with the A's in a playoff race -- they hold the top American League Wild Card spot and are 4 1/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West -- manager Bob Melvin is not sure what to expect with Lawless calling the shots.

"For me it's trying to forecast how the manager's going to play it," Melvin said. "You get a handle on how somebody plays it, now all of a sudden, you get callups on top of that, too, which adds to the dynamic.

"It's going to be interesting to see if they do some things a little bit differently, because they did some very unique things on the bases when Bo Porter was there. They weren't afraid to run into some outs, weren't afraid to steal third with two outs, a lot of stuff like that you normally don't see -- kind of the uncertainty how they're going to play."

The A's have played the Astros more than any other team this season, going 10-6 to clinch the season series. Most recently, Oakland took two of three from Aug. 25-27 at Minute Maid Park, scoring three in the ninth off closer Chad Qualls in the rubber match.

Jeff Samardzija, who gets the ball on Friday, started the first game of that series and allowed two runs in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking one. In three starts against Houston this season, he is 2-0 with a 2.78 ERA.

Brett Oberholtzer will start for the Astros trying to bounce back from his worst outing of the season, a seven-run setback against the Rangers. He made consecutive starts against the A's in late July, allowing a combined five runs in 13 2/3 frames.

Astros: Carter has thrived against A's
Designated hitter Chris Carter had an unbelievable August, bashing 12 homers and driving in 29 runs while posting a .613 slugging percentage. But he did his best work against the A's, with whom he began his career (2010 to 2012).

In Houston's late August series against Oakland, Carter went 4-for-13 with three home runs -- one in each game -- and six RBIs. His six homers and 17 RBIs off A's pitching this season are his best numbers against any opponent.

Carter has also had Samardzija's number: He is 5-for-12 with two home runs and two doubles off the righty in his career.

A's: Crisp could return on Friday
Center fielder Coco Crisp, who aggravated his neck last Friday trying to rob a home run, has a chance to be back in the lineup for the opener.

Crisp has battled issues with his neck throughout the season. He received multiple trigger-point injections on Tuesday to alleviate the pain and came away feeling better.

"He felt pretty good yesterday," Melvin said on Wednesday. "We didn't have him do anything yesterday based on the shots, so if he feels that much better today, and with the off-day tomorrow, hopefully we have a chance on Friday."

Worth noting
• Recent A's acquisition Adam Dunn hit his 462nd career home run -- and second for Oakland -- on Wednesday, tying him with Jose Canseco for 34th all-time.

• Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the league with a .340 average and is vying to become the first player in franchise history to win a batting title, has tallied a career high and an MLB-best 194 hits thru 140 games. The top three single-season hit totals in franchise history are owned by second baseman Craig Biggio (210 hits in 1998), shortstop Miguel Tejada (199 in 2009) and outfielder Derek Bell (198 in 1998).

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