OAKLAND – How strong is Nate Freiman?
Strong enough that the rookie first baseman parted the howling winds in left field Monday night for a three-run, first-inning homer that highlighted the A's 11-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
Astros starter Erik Bedard walked four of the first six men he faced and was already trailing 3-0 after a run-scoring wild pitch and Brandon Moss' two-run single.
Freiman, picked up from the Astros as a Rule 5 player during the last week of spring training, fell behind 1-2, then crushed a Bedard pitch into the permanent seats in left-center for his first home run.
The drive capped a six-run inning, and Tommy Milone took it from there, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Milone (3-0) left after his 100th pitch, on which Jose Altuve singled in Houston's second run. Sean Doolittle took over and struck out Justin Maxwell to keep Oakland's lead at 6-2.
Milone became the first A's starter since Dave Stewart in 1990 to win his first three starts. Stewart began the 1990 season 6-0. Milone also moved into a tie for the American League lead in wins.
The A's padded their lead in the seventh with three runs on Jed Lowrie's two-run single and Moss' RBI double. Lowrie ended the scoring with a two-run single in the eighth.
Coco Crisp was back in the A's lineup in center field after missing two games with a groin injury. But Josh Reddick, who's 4 for 37 this season, got the night off.