HOUSTON — Colby Rasmus homered twice and George Springer added a two-run shot to back a solid start by Collin McHugh and help the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 Sunday.
The Astros won their second in a row following a five-game skid that knocked them out of first place in the AL West. They entered the day 2 1/2 games behind Texas for first place, but had a 1½-game edge over the Angels for the second wild-card spot.
McHugh (17-7) allowed four hits and one run in eight innings, striking out eight in his fourth straight win.
Barry Zito pitched in the majors for the first since 2013 and gave up Rasmus’ second homer. The 37-year-old lefty had spent the season in Triple-A for Oakland after sitting out last year.
The game was tied at 1 in the fifth before Springer’s two-out homer. It was the 14th home run this season for Springer, who has reached base safely in all 15 games since coming off the disabled list but hadn’t homered in his return.
Rasmus hit a solo homer in the second off Aaron Brooks (2-4) and a two-run drive off Zito in the eighth.
Called up from Nashville on Wednesday, Zito gave up two runs, two hits and a walk in his first big league game since Sept. 29, 2013, for San Francisco. He spent his first seven seasons with the A’s and was the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Marcus Semien drove in Oakland’s only run with a double in the second inning. Billy Butler tried to score on the hit and was thrown out at the plate.
The A’s threatened in the seventh when Stephen Vogt drew a walk with two outs and Jake Smolinski doubled. McHugh struck out, pumping his first as he slowly walked off the mound.
Rasmus connected for his 20th homer, a drive that clanged off the foul pole in right field. It was his fourth season with at least 20, and he later added another home run.
Athletics: Selected the contract of C Bryan Anderson with Josh Phegley out with a concussion after being hit in the back of the head during batting practice earlier this week. C Vogt is still recovering from a groin injury and was in the lineup for the first time, at designated hitter.
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez missed his eighth straight game with discomfort in his ribs. He’s improving and hit off a tee for the first time on Sunday.
Athletics: Oakland is off on Monday before opening a series against Texas on Tuesday when Sean Nolin opposes Rangers LHP Martin Perez. Nolin is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Sept. 4.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel looks for his 18th win when Houston opens a three-game series against Jered Weaver and the Angels. Keuchel will try to bounce back after giving up a career-high nine runs on 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 14-3 loss to the Rangers.