Feeling as good as ever, Barry Zito will try to push his personal record over .500 as the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics complete a four-game series with Miguel Tejada and the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Since ending a four-game losing streak, Zito has won five of his last seven decisions, including a 5-0 victory at Tampa Bay on Saturday. The left-hander allowed four hits and struck out six over eight innings, improving his personal mark to 9-9. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner hasn’t been over .500 since June 15.
“This is the best I’ve felt in a very long time,” Zito said. “I can’t remember the last time I felt like this. I don’t know if I ever have. I’ve just got to keep it going.”
Zito, who has a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts, also allowed four hits in his previous start, a 6-1 home loss to Kansas City on Aug. 15 which he left holding a 1-0 lead in the seventh.
“That’s two exceptionally strong outings in a row from Zito,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “His curveball was terrific and the command was there. There isn’t too much I can say about him.”
The A’s are going for their first four-game home sweep of the Orioles since July 20-23, 1989.
Marco Scutaro hit a three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday, lifting Oakland to a 3-0 victory. The A’s won their third in a row and eighth in the last nine overall, beating the Orioles for the sixth time this season and 13th in the last 15 meetings.
Baltimore has lost a season-high nine in a row.
Melvin Mora was 2-for-4 for the Orioles, giving him hits in 23 of his last 26 games.
However, Tejada went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-11 in his return to Oakland. The 2002 AL MVP signed a $72 million, six-year contract with Baltimore last offseason after spending his first seven years with the A’s.
He is 3-for-21 (.143) against his former team this season.