Usually clubs aren't wild about their opponent changing starting pitchers right before the game.

For the A's on Sunday however the sudden appearance of Lucas Harrell on the mound was no cause for consternation. Oakland likes hitting against the Houston right-hander - and did so again a lot in a 7-2 victory over the Astros.

The victory was the A's third in a row and Oakland has won eight of its past 10 games to move a season-high 23 games over .500 at 83-60. The A's remain 1 1/2 games ahead of Texas in the AL West.

The main thing as far as the A's were concerned was that when Paul Clemens was scratched with a blister Houston manager Bo Porter opted to go with Harrell over Erik Bedard a lefty. Bedard would have necessitated an Oakland lineup overhaul given the team's platoon system.

"No one really knew Clemens that well and when we heard Harrell we've faced him before" Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said. "At the end of the day righty versus lefty is the only thing that matters when it comes to a starter around here and it was another righty so all right nothing changes."

If it had been Bedard on the mound Seth Smith wouldn't have been in the game. And it was Smith who capped the A's seven-run third inning with a three-run homer off Harrell. Smith is 5-for-7 with six RBIs lifetime against Harrell.

"It felt good to put a game out of reach early" said Smith who'd grounded out with two on and two outs in the second inning. "My first at-bat I had a chance to put us on the board and didn't come through."