HOU@OAK: Astros confront Lowrie on unwritten rule

OAKLAND -- A day after his strange encounter with a heated Bo Porter, Jed Lowrie remained puzzled by the Astros manager's animated reaction to a bunt.

Granted, it was an attempted bunt in a game the A's already led, 7-0. But it was also the first inning, and the way Lowrie sees it, Porter essentially invited him to bunt by activating the shift.

Still, Porter didn't like it, and righty Paul Clemens nearly hit Lowrie with a pitch in the third. Upon completion of the at-bat, which resulted in a fly out, Porter charged the field and began yelling at Lowrie to go back to shortstop. Moments later, he was still seen shouting in the dugout and knocking over a water cooler.

"I still don't get the reaction, given the situation," Lowrie said Saturday morning. "I know we had scored seven runs, but like I said yesterday, it's a Major League game, you don't know what's going to happen. They were playing a full shift. That's what I don't get. Why is it OK for you to shift down seven runs, but it's not OK for me to bunt? You're still trying to get me out, and you think you have a better opportunity to get me out by shifting. So obviously you're not waving the white flag by shifting.

"At one point they were one swing away from being back in the game. It ended up not being that way, but you never know what's going to happen."

Porter was asked about his reaction on Saturday but maintained, "Nothing happened yesterday."

"If I'm on the other side, maybe it perturbs me a little bit," said A's manager Bob Melvin, "but it's still the first inning, so that one's probably in-between, where you understand both sides of that. What happened a little later was probably more inappropriate. But hopefully we can just move on. I don't think it's that big of an issue to tell you the truth."

Lowrie, who believes he heard an Astros player yelling at him after bunting, approached Melvin in the second inning to ask if his decision to do so was OK with his manager. Melvin said it was.

"He told me, 'If they promise not to score any runs, then I don't care, but it's the first inning,'" said Lowrie, who then watched George Springer steal second base in the third inning, despite his team being down by six runs.

"How can you complain about a situation like that when you're running? Swing the bat," Lowrie continued. "It's the exact same situation. If you're down, you're not going to steal your way back into the game. You're going to hit your way back in the game."

Crisp expected back in lineup for finale

HOU@OAK: Crisp's deep count ends with two-run shot

OAKLAND -- In what is becoming a familiar scene, Coco Crisp was missing from the A's lineup on Saturday.

Oakland has been without its regular leadoff hitter for much of the last two weeks, but manager Bob Melvin is hopeful Crisp is nearing everyday action again.

The center fielder started Friday night's series opener against the Astros and was 2-for-3 with a homer, but he was held back against lefty starter Brett Oberholtzer on Saturday, as the A's are being cautious with a left wrist that kept him out of action for several days last week.

Crisp entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and drew a walk after Oberholtzer was lifted for a right-handed reliever. Crisp lined out softly to shortstop in the eighth and is expected to be in Sunday's starting lineup.

"We'll get into it slowly," said Melvin. "He felt a lot better swinging right-handed in the cage. He's available again off the bench today, and either today or tomorrow we'll be a full-go with him from both sides of the plate."

Craig Gentry started in center field in place of Crisp, who has reached base safely via hit or walk in each of his eight starts. He missed four games because of the wrist injury and another three as a result of a hamstring issue.

"I'm just trying to be careful with him," Melvin said. "This is a guy we don't want to lose for a significant period of time. We've come a long way with the injury, and we just want to make sure he's as close to 100 percent as we can get."

Rehabbing O'Flaherty throws bullpen session

Athletics add left-hander O'Flaherty to bullpen

OAKLAND -- Rehabbing A's reliever Eric O'Flaherty made his first appearance at the Coliseum on Saturday, if only in the shadows.

O'Flaherty, on the mend from Tommy John surgery, threw a 30 plus-pitch bullpen session in front of A's manager Bob Melvin, including a handful of breaking balls from a shorter distance.

The lefty, signed by the A's to a two-year, $7 million deal in the offseason, is expected to utilize all of his pitches from a normal length in his next session.

"He looked really good," Melvin said. "You can see what he's got to offer, and it's pretty exciting. We'll take it on the pace we've been taking it on, but it was good to see him throw his breaking balls."

O'Flaherty appears to be ahead of schedule. Originally anticipated to be back in July, there's a chance he could join the A's as soon as June, given his current progress. By the time the A's return from their next road trip in early May, O'Flaherty is expected to be throwing to hitters.

"Then we start to get him out on a rehab assignment to where he's throwing in games," said Melvin. "That's when we can start to formulate a plan."

The 29-year-old southpaw was one of baseball's best relievers over the last three seasons, recording a 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances for Atlanta -- the lowest mark among any reliever with at least 125 innings.