Sonny Gray is the rookie with all eyes on him since he was recalled this month but it was another first-year player who provided Gray with the backing for his first major-league win.

Rule-5 first baseman Nate Freiman whacked a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third helping the A's beat the Astros 5-0 and prevent a Houston sweep. Freiman finished with a career-high four hits and four RBIs while Gray the A's top pitching prospect worked eight scoreless innings. Gray lowered his ERA to 1.00 in four appearances including two starts.

"He threw the ball outstanding" catcher Derek Norris said. "He's very exciting to watch. I'm looking forward to catching him several hundred more times."

Gray was presented with the lineup card after the game and he also got a box of game-used balls including the one he used to get his final out a comebacker by Brett Wallace.

"It's kind of sinking in right now" Gray said looking around at the mass of reporters surrounding his locker. "It's a great feeling especially that we could come away with the win."

Gray making his first start in Oakland was terrific allowing four hits and one walk and striking out nine the best home debut by a heralded young A's starter since Mike Norris' three-hit shutout of the White Sox on April 10 1975.

It's another A's pitcher of the past that Gray often draws comparisons to; manager Bob Melvin said that Gray reminds him of Tim Hudson something Gray says he's been hearing since high school. Asked if he likes the comparisons Gray said "Tim Hudson is one of my favorite pitchers one of the greatest pitchers so absolutely."

Hudson went seven innings and allowed seven hits and two runs one earned in his Oakland debut June 13 1999.

Melvin said he allowed Gray to go 118 pitches because he didn't want to use any of his primary relievers and Dan Otero had warmed up each of the previous four games. Otero finished up Thursday; it was the 10th shutout recorded by the A's pitching staff this season.