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OAK@SF: Kazmir fans nine over seven strong innings

Fresh off his appearance in the Midsummer Classic, Scott Kazmir will oppose Houston's Brett Oberholtzer for the third time this season, as the A's open their series against the Astros on Tuesday in Oakland. 

"He gives up zero, one or two runs and gets you deep in the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Kazmir. "He's been as consistent as anybody in the league -- both leagues."

Kazmir will be making his first start of the second half in his first time on the mound since striking out Giancarlo Stanton in his two-thirds of an inning at Tuesday's All-Star Game.

The lefty ranks second in the American League with a 2.38 ERA and third in opponents' average (.206). He's 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his last five starts in Oakland and 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA in eight starts at home overall.

"The way he moves feet, moves eyes and dots up the corners and gets people to chase pitches is really remarkable," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "He's been Mr. Consistency for us."

Kazmir is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his two starts against the Astros this year. He made back-to-back starts against Houston in mid-April -- and Oberholtzer was his opponent both times. Neither pitcher earned a decision in the first matchup, and Kazmir beat Oberholtzer their second time out. 

Oberholtzer (2-7, 4.50 ERA) is also making his first start after the All-Star break. In his last start, on July 12 against the Red Sox, he went 6 1/3 innings and held Boston to two runs despite scattering 11 hits.

A's: No robot needed -- LeGrande throws first pitch
• Virtually bonded more than a year ago through the first telerobotic first pitch in Major League Baseball history, A's reliever Ryan Cook and Nick LeGrande have since become good buddies.

They text often -- about baseball, the A's, video games. And, on Sunday, they were reunited for another ceremonial first pitch, this time in person at the Coliseum, just as they dreamed it up.

The 15-year-old LeGrande, diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare life-threatening blood disorder that affects six out of every one million people, was making weekly trips to the hospital for blood transfusions and could rarely leave his home when he first met Cook.

One month later, he underwent a successful bone marrow transplant and was soon cleared medically to make the trip west from Kansas City with his family.

"It was just amazing to me how it was never an issue of if he was going to get healthy, but when he was going to get healthy," said Cook. "Their family has had the right attitude the whole time. But just to see it actually come to fruition and for them to get here and have this happen, it's pretty cool."

Astros: Springer scratched, likely to return vs. A's
• Outfielder George Springer was scratched from the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox due to soreness in the quad and knee on his right leg, manager Bo Porter said.

Porter said that Springer will likely return during the series in Oakland.

The rookie, who leads the team with 20 home runs, first hurt the knee when running into the outfield wall while going for a fly ball in Arlington earlier this month. The quad, however, has become sore over the grind of the season, Porter said, while noting that Springer likely won't go on the disabled list.

"Obviously he wants to play and we would love to have him in the lineup, but at the same time, sometimes you have to protect them from themselves," Porter said just after the lineup posted before Sunday's 11-7 win over the White Sox. "This is one of those situations where, from a medical standpoint and my standpoint, we want to protect him from himself."

Springer is the third starting outfielder Houston has lost to injury in the past month, joining Dexter Fowler (intercostal strain June 26) and Alex Presley (right oblique July 7), who are on the 15-day DL.

Worth noting
• A's outfielder Josh Reddick (sprained right knee) is likely to be activated from the DL in time for Tuesday's series opener.

• Oakland's Alberto Callaspo (right hamstring strain) is expected to resume baseball activities Tuesday. He's eligible to come off the disabled list next Sunday and is likely to be activated soon after.

• Springer ranks second in the Majors with 20 home runs since his debut May 8, trailing only Edwin Encarnacion in that category during that span. He trails only White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (29 homers, 74 RBIs) in those categories among rookies.

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