Something about the last third of the regular season agrees with the Oakland Athletics.
Oakland looks to extend its longest win streak of the season to 10 when it opens a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, losers of eight in a row.
After spending most of this season in second place in the AL West, the Athletics again picked up their play in August and finished the month with a nine-game win streak. The run has moved Oakland atop the division, two games ahead of the second-place Seattle Mariners.
“All the work I’ve been putting in has been helping me out a lot,” Harden said. “It makes me feel a lot better, and it’s great having the team play the way it’s playing right now. Everybody picks everybody up.”
The win was the 13th in 15 games for Oakland, which set a franchise record with 20 straight victories last season. The A’s posted their third consecutive 20-win August, finishing the month 20-9. They are 81-23 in August and September the last two seasons.
Tejada has been one of the main catalysts during Oakland’s surge. The reigning AL MVP hit .333 in August with seven homers and 24 RBIs.
Each of the A’s nine straight wins have come against non-contending teams Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Oakland doesn’t play a contender until it faces Seattle on Sept. 19.
Baltimore is limping to the finish for the second consecutive season.
After losing 32 of their final 36 games in 2002, the Orioles finished this August with their second eight-game losing streak of the month. They are 4-16 since getting within two games of .500 on Aug. 10.
STANDINGS: Athletics - 1st place, AL West. Orioles - 4th place, 22 1/2 GB, AL East.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Zito (11-11, 3.33 ERA). The left-hander limited Baltimore to two runs and four hits in eight innings Wednesday in a 6-2 victory, his third in four starts. Zito has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last seven outings. He is 4-2 with a 2.18 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Pat Hentgen (5-7, 4.49 ERA). The right-hander pitched seven strong innings against Oakland on July 12, but was roughed up for four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings Wednesday in the 6-2 loss. He had pitched effectively in each of his three previous starts, compiling a 2.75 ERA. Hentgen is 7-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 19 games against Oakland.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Athletics - Eric Chavez, .276 avg.; Chavez and Tejada, 24 HRs; Tejada, 89 RBIs and 83 runs; Eric Byrnes, 9 SBs. Orioles - Jay Gibbons, .283 avg., 90 RBIs and 70 runs; Tony Batista, 23 HRs; Brian Roberts, 20 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 6-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Athletics - Oakland starters are 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in the last eight games. … The A’s have won 11 of their last 14 games at Camden Yards. … Oakland recalled SS Bobby Crosby, the Pacific Coast League rookie of the year, from Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. Orioles - Baltimore is hitting .187 during the current eight-game skid. … CF Luis Matos is batting .139 (6-for-43) in his last 12 games. … OF Melvin Mora and 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. are expected to be in uniform Tuesday. Mora has been sidelined since July 31 with a hand injury, while Hairston has been out since May 20 with a fractured foot.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Athletics - 32-34 on the road; Orioles - 33-32 at home.
INJURIES: Athletics - OF Jermaine Dye (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Micah Bowie (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Mark Mulder (hip), 15-day DL. Orioles - 1B David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Mora (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 60-day DL; 2B Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.