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Astros look to give Luis Garcia more run support vs. A’s

The Houston Astros have scored the fourth-most runs in the American League this season and own the second-best run differential, but it’s difficult to tell by looking at right-hander Luis Garcia’s past three outings.

Garcia (8-8, 3.93 ERA) will try to end a three-start losing streak when he takes the mound against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Friday in the opener of a three-game series.

Garcia’s last three losses have had more to do with a lack of run support than his performance, however. Houston, which averages nearly 4 1/2 runs a game, has combined to score six runs in those games.

The Astros bettered that number in a 7-3 win against the visiting Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon.

Two of Garcia’s outings in the skid have been on the road, including his last start, when he surrendered four runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings of a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

Garcia is looking forward to pitching at Minute Maid Park again.

“To be honest, when I pitch on the road, it’s not the same as home,” Garcia said. “I feel different.”

Garcia liked the chemistry he had with catcher Christian Vasquez in that game. Garcia arrived via trade from the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 1.

“With Vazquez, it was good. Everything went well,” Garcia said. “I’m happy that he’s here to help us.”

Garcia is 1-1 in four career starts against Oakland with a 3.05 ERA.

His current losing streak started against the A’s on July 26, when he gave up four runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-3 loss in Oakland.

The A’s plan to start rookie right-hander Adam Oller (1-5, 7.63).

Oller’s only win came against the visiting Astros on July 25, when he gave up four runs (three earned) and four hits in five innings of a 7-5 win.

Oller started eight days earlier in Houston and did not receive a decision in the 4-3 victory. He gave up three runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Oller, who came to Oakland in March in a trade that sent right-hander Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets, was born just outside Houston and still lives in the area.

The A’s designated veteran infielder Jed Lowrie for assignment before their game on Wednesday. In his third stint with Oakland, the 38-year-old was hitting .180 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 50 games.

He made his lone All-Star Game appearance with Oakland in 2018.

“He’s been a part of some great clubs, especially of late,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “He’s had some great moments here, so definitely not an easy day.”

In a corresponding move, the A’s recalled outfielder Cal Stevenson from Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday.

He made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Angels that night and went 1 for 3 with a single, walk and sacrifice bunt in the 5-4 loss in 12 innings.

“Cal had a good day,” Kotsay said. “He got his first big league hit, which is great. He took some good at-bats, got on base. The last at-bat of the game, he goes from 0-2 to 3-2 and barrels the baseball. … Overall, the assessment from just watching him today. … he’s got control of the strike zone.”

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