Toronto (56-46) at Oakland (53-49)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 28, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Oakland Athletics look to win three straight games for the first time in more than a month when they continue a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday at McAfee Coliseum.

Oakland (53-49) is just 15-18 since a season-high 10-game winning streak from June 8-18. The Athletics are in position for their first three-game winning streak since tha run after strong efforts the last two nights from starting pitchers Dan Haren and Joe Blanton.

Haren gave up one run and four hits over seven innings in a 5-1 victory over Boston on Wednesday. Blanton also went seven in Thursday’s series opener and gave up two runs and five hits in a 5-2 win.

The A’s moved a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for first place in the AL West. After this series, Oakland travels to Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels.

Oakland rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning. Struggling Eric Chavez chased Toronto starter Ted Lilly with a two-run single with one out that gave the A’s the lead for good.

Chavez is batting just .193 (11-for-57) over his last 11 games as he tries to overcome tendinitis in his arms.

“It’s good. I’m almost a week away,” Chavez said of fully regaining his stroke. “Even the first ball I hit into the double play (in the second inning) was encouraging to me. I really don’t look for results. I look for feel.”

Oakland center fielder Mark Kotsay is expected to be back in the lineup after manager Ken Macha gave him Thursday off with the left-hander Lilly on the mound for Toronto (56-46). Kotsay is batting .375 (18-for-48) with 11 RBIs over his last 11 games.

The A’s will send struggling Esteban Loaiza (4-6, 6.75 ERA) to the mound. Loaiza has failed to last six innings in any of his last four outings, going 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA.

The veteran right-hander was tagged for a season-high eight runs and eight hits over a season-low three innings in his last start, an 8-4 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

Loaiza is 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA against Toronto in 11 career appearances, including nine starts. He pitched for the Blue Jays from 2000-02.

Toronto was hoping for a strong road trip after taking three of four home games against the AL wild card-leading New York Yankees last weekend. The Blue Jays have instead stumbled at the start of the 10-game trip, losing three of four games to fall 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

“It was one of those tight games and it’s kind of been our track record this year,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after Thursday’s defeat. “Low-scoring games, we haven’t won a lot of them.”

The Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells is batting .412 (21-for-51) during a 12-game hitting streak after going 1-for-4 on Monday. Wells, who missed the first two games of the trip with a sore back, returned to center field after serving as designated hitter Wednesday in Seattle.

Shaun Marcum (1-0, 5.03) makes his third career start for Toronto. Marcum earned his first career victory on Sunday against the New York Yankees by allowing three runs and seven hits over five innings of a 13-5 victory.

The 24-year-old right-hander is starting on the road for the first time.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Marcum Cle vs. E. Loaiza CWS
3-4 Record 11-9
5.06 ERA 4.89
65 K 97
38 BB 40
1.60 WHIP 1.42