The A's and Astros have squared off nine times this season. Oakland has won all nine meetings.
"We have [had success]," said A's skipper Bob Melvin. "But you have to continue to play at the top of your game. You can't just continue to throw your glove out there. They've played well against some good teams this year, too, and they've made some changes along the way that have made them a better team."
The American League West foes will tangle at Minute Maid Park on Monday for the first tilt in a three-game set.
Houston has dropped 13 consecutive contests at home against division opponents. Overall, the Astros are mired in a five-game losing streak.
"The effort is definitely there," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "The execution is where we have the inconsistency and that's been the tale of our season. It's been a roller coaster ride. The games that are more frustrating is where you beat yourself. These are the games we cannot afford to lose."
A's shortstop Jed Lowrie can sympathize. He played for the Astros last season, when the franchise lost 107 games.
"I feel tied to those guys because I played with them last year," Lowrie said. "I like to see how they're doing. I've got some guys I still stay in touch with on that team, so it's fun to catch up."
It doesn't appear as though the A's will have Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup in Monday's series opener. The outfielder continues to battle a sore left wrist.
"Until we get him in the cage, he swings full and gets some batting practice and is comfortable there, you won't see him in a game," Melvin said. "We're not there yet."
A's: Rested Milone gets call
Southpaw Tommy Milone (8-8, 4.24 ERA) will toe the rubber for Oakland on Monday. He'll be pitching on 11 days' rest, having not taken the hill since lasting only 2 2/3 innings against the Pirates on July 10. In his career, Milone is 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA in starts coming after at least six days' rest.
"I think sometimes you feel drained without feeling like there's anything wrong," Milone said. "... Just getting that extra time off obviously helps. I think that's what we're trying to go for right now. Without having to skip a start, we got to push it back a little bit and use the All-Star break to our advantage."
In two starts against Houston this season, Milone has posted a 1-0 record and 4.61 ERA.
Astros: Keuchel looking to play stopper
Hoping for a better result than his most recent encounter with the A's, Dallas Keuchel will start for Houston on Monday. Keuchel has not pitched since July 13.
The left-hander made two relief appearances against Oakland in April and made a start against them at Minute Maid Park in May. In that contest, Keuchel surrendered six runs on 10 hits over six innings. In 19 outings (12 starts) this season, Keuchel has compiled a 4-5 record and 4.62 ERA.
• Oakland has outscored Houston, 68-31, in their nine meetings this season.
• A's hurler Bartolo Colon is tied for the Major League lead with three shutouts. He tossed No. 3 on Sunday.