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Harrell struggles in emergency start

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MICHAEL WAGAMAN | September 8, 2013 08:51 PM EST | AP


OAKLAND, Calif. — Unlike his manager, Astros' pitcher Lucas Harrell didn't have much of a problem with home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's strike zone.

It was the pitches Harrell left over the plate that bothered Houston's emergency starter.

Pressed into duty when scheduled starter Paul Clemens was scratched about an hour before the game because of a blister on his right hand, Harrell was knocked out of the game after giving up seven runs in the third inning of a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

"If you're put in the game to get people out, you've got to get people out," Harrell said. "It's just the way it is. It's just the business."

Harrell allowed seven hits, struck out two and walked two in his brief appearance before being pulled in favor of Erik Bedard.

Bedard was in the middle of pitching in the fifth inning when Houston manager Bo Porter trotted out of the dugout to the mound.

Wendelstedt went out to the mound, and after the two men exchanged words, he ejected Porter. Porter remained on the field after getting tossed and continued to argue with Wendelstedt before heading to the clubhouse.

"I just asked him a quick question, `Where are those pitches?'" said Porter, who was also ejected from Thursday's game in Oakland. "And he threw me out of the game."

It was a frustrating weekend for the Astros, who had taken three of four from the A's until losing the final three games of this series.

Houston jumped on Colon early when he gave up a single to leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar and a run-scoring double to Jose Altuve in the first before settling in.

"It's really hard when you put yourself in a position where they score seven in one inning (against) a ballclub like the A's have," Porter said. "They're bullpen is tough and we've faced (Bartolo) Colon several times this year. He's a strike-thrower ... and he just continued to pound the strike zone."

Colon (15-6) allowed one run and five hits over six innings for his first victory since July 26. The 40-year-old struck out seven and walked one, ending his personal five-game winless streak while becoming the first pitcher in AL history to win 15 games with four teams. He also did it with the Indians, White Sox and Angels.

Seth Smith homered off Harrell (6-16) during Oakland's seven-run third inning, Brandon Moss added three hits and drove in two runs while Yoenis Cespedes added two hits and an RBI for the AL West-leading A's.

Moss hit a two-run double in the third, Cespedes added an RBI single and Daric Barton also knocked in a run before Smith's home run made it 7-1.

Brett Anderson pitched the final three innings for Oakland for his third save.

Houston scored its other run in the seventh when Brandon Barnes singled in L.J. Hoes.

NOTES: Hoes was the only Astros player with multiple hits. ... Altuve is batting .429 (15 for 35) in September. ... Porter had only been ejected once this season prior to getting tossed twice in Oakland. ... Barnes has reached base in nine straight games.