The Astros went just 3-6 on their nine-game West Coast trip and will return to Houston with a five-game losing streak and possession of last place in the American League West.

A few hitters stepped up during the slide, though: Jose Altuve, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Carter and Carlos Pena.

Pena could make the biggest difference for the rebuilding Astros moving forward. He hit his second home run of the season Wednesday during the Astros’ 7-5 loss to the Athletics, and it was the 13-year veteran’s second consecutive game with a long ball. The 34-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is 10-for-29 with four doubles, six walks and six RBIs in his last eight games.

To Astros manager Bo Porter, the sight of Pena’s opposite-field power shots was one of the most encouraging signs during the club’s disappointing Pacific time zone journey.

“Carlos is definitely getting locked in, and that’s good, because we’re going to need him in the middle of that lineup,” Porter said.

Through 15 games, Pena is hitting .250 with a .729 on-base plus slugging percentage. He’s struck out 16 times in 48 at-bats and knows it’s too early in the season to make any real judgments. But after a 2012 campaign that saw Pena hit just .197 with 182 strikeouts, one of the Astros’ biggest offseason acquisitions feels his swing becoming sharper.

“I’m trying to pay close attention to the (small) details and not judge my at-bats by the results,” Pena said.