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First-place Astros beat last-place A’s

Houston brought the Majors’ second-best record to the Coliseum for Friday night’s series opener against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s trailed the majors’ worst record.

Each team has lived up to — or down from — its billing. The Astros (55-28) had 14 hits for an 8-3 decision against the A’s (28-57).

Paul Blackburn laid down Houston’s first 10 batters before Aledmys Diaz hit a left double.

Then, almost faster than you can say, “Where did that 2-0 lead go?” the Astros went from 2-0 to 3-2. Yordan Alvarez drilled a brace on the opposite court to bring Diaz home. It was Alvarez’s 60th RBI this season. He is third in the AL in this category.

On the next pitch, Alex Bregman took Blackburn deep left. Bregman’s homer was his 11th of the season and he put Houston ahead 3-2.

Blackburn handled the next two batters, but those were the last two batters he gave up in the game. Jake Meyers and former Giants utility Mauricio Dubón opened the fifth with singles before Martin Maldonado threw his eighth home run of the season, one undoubtedly left on an overhanging break fly.

It’s 6-2. A walk to Jose Altuve and a Diaz single ended Blackburn’s night. He worked over four innings and allowed six runs on seven hits. He struck out six and walked one.

Blackburn’s exit highlighted the stark contrast between the way he has pitched on the road this season – 5-0, 1.28 ERA – and the way he has pitched at the Coliseum: 1-4, 6.75 ERA.

“It’s very frustrating,” Blackburn said. “It’s not something I think about there, but I feel like every time I step on that mound, I’m not giving our fans what they came to see.

“They come to see a good game, and… I just feel like I’m not giving them a nice game to watch. I have no idea why. It’s something I have to understand. If you have any suggestions, please…”

Right-hander José Urquidy (8-3) held the A’s to three runs on four hits in eight innings. Seth Martinez worked a ninth at three and three.

The Blackburn case: The All-Star Game pitchers will be announced Sunday afternoon, and Blackburn ranks among the favorites to be the A’s representative in the game at Dodger Stadium on July 19.

No Oakland position player is figuring to get an All-Star nod. Blackburn (6-4) introduced a 2.90 ERA in Friday’s game. It now stands at 3.36. Fellow starters Frankie Montas (3-9, 3.26 ERA, 100 strikeouts in 96 ⅔ innings) and Cole Irvin (3-6, 3.35) have stats comparable to Blackburn’s.

A reporter asked Blackburn what would go through his mind on Sunday.

“To be honest,” Blackburn replied, “I have no idea what Sunday is.”

Then informed that this will be the day the pitchers are named for the All-Star Game, Blackburn said: “I feel like there are other things I have to worry about right now that are going on. pass here and in the field. Yeah, if my name is called, I would be extremely happy.

Because Montas is suffering from shoulder inflammation and will at least miss his scheduled departure on Saturday, he is unlikely to receive a trip to Los Angeles.

Blackburn entered this season with a 5.74 ERA over five major league seasons. Considering how much the 28-year-old from Heritage High-Brentwood has improved, his stats become all the more impressive. This could help him land a spot on the AL roster.

“As far as Paul’s performance this year goes, he really deserves it,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “I wouldn’t base Paul’s All-Star selection on one outing. It is a collection of works.

Briefly: The A’s have played their last nine games in 3 hours or less, including Friday’s 2:57 affair. … Sam Moll did a good job in his two relief runs. The southpaw replaced Blackburn with runners in the corners and no outs in the fifth. Moll escaped that jam by blasting Alvarez short and Bregman to the ground in a double play. Moll then escaped a second and third one-out threat in the sixth by feeding Dubón to the right and pulling Maldonado out. … Elvis Andrus’ two-run homer gave the A’s a 2-0 lead in the second.

Steve Kroner is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @SteveKronerSF